22 March 2018
AHS awarded UK contract for GaAs-based magnetic imaging of clandestine metallic threats
© Semiconductor Today Magazine / Juno PublishiPicture: Disco’s DAL7440 KABRA laser saw.
Advanced Hall Sensors Ltd (AHS) of Manchester, UK (which makes magnetic sensor products based on quantum effects in gallium arsenide materials) has been awarded a Phase 2 contract under the UK government’s Innovative Research Call (IRC) in Explosives and Weapons Detection (2016) program to develop real-time, high-resolution magnetic imaging of clandestine metallic threats, following a successful proof of concept demonstration in 2017.
The technology is based on a radically new sensor that offers the essential characteristics to realise high-resolution, high-throughput magnetic imaging. GaAs-based quantum-well Hall-effect (QWHE) technology is >100x more sensitive than existing silicon Hall sensor technology, and is key to unlocking multiple benefits in the context of threat detection, i.e. nanoTesla sensitivities in an uncooled format, AC operation enabling 3D inspection, and minimal power consumption for portable implementation.
The superior sensitivity enables visualization of the geometrical characteristics of hidden metallic objects, determination of the type of metallic object (both ferrous and non-ferrous), discrimination of metallic combinations, and 3D profiling of metallic objects. In essence, the technology offers the advantages of x-ray imaging of metallic components without the need for an x-ray source.
The core sensing technology was developed at Manchester University by professor Mohamed Missous, and is being further refined for multiple applications under the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Future Compound Semiconductor Manufacturing Hub, in partnership with the Compound Semiconductor Centre.
The IRC in Explosives and Weapons Detection is a cross-government program sponsored by a number of Departments and Agencies under the UK Government’s CONTEST strategy in partnership with the US Department of Homeland Security, Science and Technology Directorate.
AHS has supplied in excess of 15 million sensors to a range of customers in industrial, medical, aerospace and the oil & gas industries.
The Compound Semiconductor Centre was founded in 2015 as a joint venture between Cardiff University and epiwafer foundry and substrate maker IQE plc of Cardiff, Wales, UK, with the mission of accelerating the commercialization of compound semiconductor materials and device research. The centre is also key towards developing a compound semiconductor cluster in South Wales.
The Future Compound Semiconductor Manufacturing Hub is a £10m EPSRC-funded initiative between Cardiff University (lead), Manchester University, Sheffield University and University College London, with support from 24 industry partners. The hub’s vision is to establish the UK as the global leader in future compound semiconductor materials and device research.