Size matters! – from fluid sensors to atomar tips at Innovation Landscape Micro & Nano.
When some 140 participants gather at an innovation event on small and the smallest technologies, then you know there’s strong interest in the subject. BaselArea.swiss organised Innovation Landscape Micro & Nano for a third time – with a record number of visitors. Hosted by Endress+Hauser in Reinach in the canton of Basel-Landschaft, visitors were offered a tour prior to the event as well as a very attractive setting. With the motto “Size matters”, everything revolved around measurements.
Endress+Hauser is a traditional measurement technology company. Its sensors can be used wherever something flows, moves or reacts chemically. But with customer needs continuing to change and a growing need to try out new measurement techniques, the company decided to found its own start-up. TrueDyne Sensors AG works with microchip-based microfluidic systems with channels as thin as a hair. These flow sensors measure liquids and gases and can be used in medical applications, the food industry or the fuel economy. And more: customers can install them in their own measurement systems, representing a new business model.
Applications for sensors in the nanoscale are extremely broad, as was shown in the presentation of Christian Bossard, head of the CSEM Research Centre in Muttenz in the canton of Basel-Landschaft. CSEM sensors are used in bioreactors to measure oxygen concentrations in cells and tissues, to enhance tissue repair or even in outer space as a compact flexible sun sensor.
Sensor technology can be based today on very different approaches and technologies. The quantum-sensing research group at the University of Basel uses the single electron spin, as was explained by its director Professor Patrick Maletinsky. The tip of a defective diamond carries an nitrogen valence electron, which can be guided 10 nanometres above a surface. Electromagnetic fields can be measured by its spin. According to Maletinsky, the imaging is one hundred times more accurate than today’s medical radiology. The spin-off Qnami is now transforming the research group’s findings into products.
Professor Georg Lipps of the School of Life Sciences at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwest Switzerland in Muttenz is working on biosensors that can be used for large analysis volumes. He uses aptamers, which react to the DNA of analysed samples and turn fluorescent. Hutman Diagnostics is already working on commercialisation of a corresponding procedure, as was explained by the head of development, Sabine Kressmann. In their procedure, a sample liquid is run through a machine and tested for different bacteria. The measurement is just as accurate as conventional methods, but it is faster and can be run automatically. The company has two machines running in the Technopark Basel, and a commercially viable machine is now being developed.
For Thomas Weber, the examples from the different companies show how strong the innovation ecosystem is in BaselArea. With the help of new technologies, the region’s strengths in the life sciences field can be combined with electronics, said the cantonal counsellor of the canton of Basel-Landschaft. “We have a huge potential.”