Plessey Semiconductors wins award for novel electric field sensor
9 June 2011
Plessey Semiconductors has been awarded a Gold Award at the
“Best of Sensors Expo” ceremony for its Electric Potential Integrated
Circuit (EPIC) sensor technology.
The EPIC sensor is a completely new area of sensor technology
that measures changes in an electric field in a similar way to a
magnetometer detecting changes in a magnetic field.
The EPIC sensor, which requires no physical or resistive contact
to make measurements, will enable innovative new products to be made
such as medical scanners that are simply held close to a patient’s
chest to obtain a detailed ECG reading or devices that can ‘see’
The sensor can be integrated on a chip with other features such
as data converters, digital signal processing and wireless
Michael LeGoff, Plessey Semiconductors’ MD, said, “We are
delighted that EPIC technology is being recognised as a truly
innovative technology that can be used to create genuinely novel and
The technology works at normal room temperatures and functions as
an ultra high, input impedance sensor that acts as a highly stable,
extremely sensitive, contactless digital voltmeter to measure tiny
changes in the electric field down to milliVolts. Most places on
Earth have a vertical electric field of about 100 Volts per metre.
The human body is mostly water and this interacts with the
electric field. EPIC technology is so sensitive that it can detect
these changes at a distance and even through a solid wall. Thus, for
example, in a fire situation, it could be possible to determine if
there any people in a smoke filled room before opening the door.
The first EPIC product, the PS25150, is an ultra high impedance,
solid state ECG (electrocardiograph) sensor for applications such as
non-critical patient monitoring, emergency response diagnostics,
sports and health products and will be sampling in September 2011.
It can be used as a dry contact ECG sensor without the need for
potentially dangerous low impedance circuits across the heart. Key
to this is that EPIC detects the voltage change in muscles and
nerves without electrical contact so there is no need to have
electrodes on or in the body to detect current changes.
The resolution available is as good as or better than
conventional wet electrodes. The device uses active feedback
techniques to both lower the effective input capacitance of the
sensing element (Cin) and boost the input resistance (Rin). These
techniques are used to realise a sensor with a frequency response
suitable for both diagnostic and monitoring ECG applications. The
total voltage gain of the system is a function of both the input
coupling capacitance (variable) and the internal sensor