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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/E042864/1
Title: The electric potential sensor - a basic technology for measurement science
Principal Investigator: Prance, Professor R
Other Investigators:
Harland, Dr CJ Prance, Dr H
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Sch of Engineering and Informatics
Organisation: University of Sussex
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 April 2007 Ends: 31 March 2011 Value (£): 757,805
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Bioelectronic Devices Materials Processing
Med.Instrument.Device& Equip.
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Electronics Healthcare
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
Throughout the history of science and technology, new measurement techniques have inexorably led to new scientific breakthroughs. The aim of this Translation grant is to take a new measurement tool, the electric potential sensor, and embed it in areas likely to foster such breakthroughs. Electromagnetic measurements up to radio frequency usually utilise magnetometers to measure the magnetic field. There is a large range of such devices, with a wide variety of performances. By contrast the use of electric field sensors or electrometers to measure the electric field is much less common. Indeed, the choice is often restricted to either insensitive portable instruments or laboratory-based electrometers, which are not user friendly. The lack of suitably sensitive and stable sensors capable of general use outside of the research laboratory is the major reason why this option for electromagnetic measurement is usually dismissed. The electric potential sensor (EPS) technology invented by us at Sussex aims to fill this gap in the portfolio of scientific instrumentation. The Basic Technology programme has consolidated the development of the EPS technology and established the truly generic nature of the sensors. It has been the aim of the programme to demonstrate that new scientific breakthroughs could be achieved and new directions created for research as a direct result of the measurement capability of this technology. This is illustrated by the publication record and recognition of our pioneering work in body electrophysiology. For example, using EPS technology, high quality electrocardiogram, electroencephalogram and electrooculogram signals can be obtained with no electrical contact to the body. This has enabled us to develop wearable, re-usable sensors suitable for long term patient monitoring. Another example of a radically new scientific approach arising from this measurement capability is the acquisition of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) signals via electric field sensing. This is a new discovery which is creating considerable interest in the scientific community and offers the possibility of major advances in specific areas of NMR imaging and spectroscopy.The benefits of such a broadly based platform technology are apparent from the diverse range of activities in which we are currently involved. They will impact on the quality of life (health, safety, security) and the UK economy (new products, quality control in manufacturing). Considerable commercial advantage would be achieved if any of the non-destructive testing (NDT) techniques proposed in this Translation grant are fully realised. For example, the structural health monitoring of composite materials, both conducting and insulating, poses many problems for conventional methods. By contrast, we have already identified a number of entirely new approaches which are enabled by our technology. Many of these materials are used in safety critical applications such as aerospace and nuclear. Our NDT methods are applicable to quality control inspection during manufacturing and subsequent fault detection in use. In addition, as with any new remote sensing technology, there is a significant possibility of novel security applications which could enhance the detection capability in a range of scenarios which are currently the focus of much attention.It is our aim to carry this work forward and embed the technology within the scientific and technical community using a number of different mechanisms. These will include pilot studies, new research projects, clinical trials, validation studies in strategic areas and subsequent commercialisation. It is essential for us to form partnerships with academic experts or commercial organisations with the required complementary knowledge and this process is already underway. This ambitious programme will be facilitated by the flexibility of the Translation grant, enabling us to secure key personnel and seize new opportunities as they arise.
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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Organisation Website: http://www.sussex.ac.uk