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Sensing technology has several potential applications across industries to improve quality, reliability, and performance. From applications in solar-powered batteries and fuel cells to improving capabilities of healthcare to enhancing security to robust environment monitoring systems, the possibilities are endless.
For instance, biosensing is a field looking to develop and enhance capabilities of existing sensing technology to be used in visual recognition, tactile, olfactory, audio and physical systems. Since the sensing technology can be utilized both in micro and nano environments, it is making a deep impact in diagnostics and drug monitoring systems.
Similarly, smart and intelligent sensor technology is looking to revolutionize the future of the world in the coming years. They will be constantly evolving, such as measuring invisible things and changing to more wearable. By ensuring integrity and reliability of the results generated by these sensors, their application in medicine, consumer products, communication devices, homes, and transportation is inevitable.
Recently, various industries expect to see the production of materials and substances with a high added value by living organisms (microbes or cells). For example, in the energy industry, the production of alcohol is based on biomaterials; in the food industry, it is the development of new bacterial strains; and, in the basic materials industry, it is the production of lightweight and highly rigid new materials, all of which are expected to be realized with microbial fermentation and cell culture processes. Yokogawa aims to contribute to the further development of industry by applying these development technologies to similar products, and to realize new biological production systems with microbes or cells as microplants.
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As one approach to measure non-physical quantities such as functions and efficacy, which were till recently difficult to quantify, Yokogawa has been researching to develop molecular spectroscopic sensors, which has the capability to visualize and detect information that is otherwise invisible. This technology comes with high-sensitivity and high-speed molecular spectroscopic capability that can capture minute state changes by molecular interactions and also detects the characteristics of trace-amounts. Combining the three indigenously developed technologies – spectroscopic analysis, spectral analysis and nano photonics – Yokogawa has developed a sensing device and built a prototype of a handheld molecular spectroscopic sensor.
The developed prototype was able to measure lycopene content of tomatoes in a non-destructive manner as an example of a proof of concept. It is important not only to simply display ingredients and their contents, but also to objectively show the interaction between substances at the molecular level. It is expected that this device would be used for quality control and logistics management. This technology can contribute to various industries that are expected to grow in the future, such as low-invasive medical treatment, including cancer diagnosis, by blood sampling and genetic testing.
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As one of the wearable sensors, the printed sensor is expected for the IoT (Internet of Things). The world of IoT employs an army of sensors to collect big data, which are uploaded to a cloud network. This data is then analyzed to generate recommendations for more optimal maintenance practices.
To support large numbers of sensors requires a sensing system that is robust and dependable. Key to such systems is flexible hybrid electronics (FHE), which use both printing and silicon technologies. Yokogawa leverages printing technology to create thin sensor systems which can be installed, flexibly, across large areas. Its highly flexible sheet sensor system can be adapted for various purposes and measurements, including industrial infrastructure, traceability, automobiles and robots, health care, and other applications, and can contribute optimal plant monitoring, quality control in logistics, and vital data management.
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The innovation in sensor technology will continue to be an important tool for industries and society.