Owlstone Nanotech, Inc.

- Field Asymmetric Ion Mobility Spectrometry (FAIMS)



Using leading-edge nanofabrication techniques, Owlstone has developed a complete chemical detection system on a chip. A ‘dime size’ Field Asymmetric Ion Mobility Spectrometer (FAIMS), with the ability to rapidly monitor a broad range of chemicals at very low quantities with high confidence. Detect multiple gases simultaneously in under a second. Detection levels below part per billion (ppb). Sensor can be reprogrammed to detect new gases through software, even after deployment. Hardware stays the same. Unique 2D chemical signature dramatically reduces false alarms.

Conventional IMS performance worsens dramatically as it is reduced in size. By contrast, the Owlstone FAIMS solution has improved sensitivity, improved selectivity at reduced power as it is miniaturized. It is not only a sensor, but a highly integrated system with the necessary electronic and mechanical components squeezed into a compact footprint. Micro and nano-fabrication techniques enable the detector to be manufactured in a massively parallel fashion, achieving small form factor, economy of scale and reduced unit cost.

Owlstone’s solution was designed to meet the demanding requirements of detection in an uncertain world and promises to set a new benchmark for reliable, cost-effective chemical and explosive detection. Increased sensitivity and selectivity over other miniature detection technologies leads to higher accuracy, and lower false positives.

Unlike alternate miniature detectors, Owlstone's technology does not rely on exotic materials, custom engineered for each application, which degrade over time. It is easily customized to each application through software updates and can be dynamically reprogrammed for new chemicals even after deployment. Use of chemically inert materials ensures a long operational and storage life.

The Owlstone detection technology can be used wherever there is the need for a small, low power, yet highly sensitive and selective method of detection. From homeland security to home safety, Owlstone is providing next generation detection solutions to leading manufacturers and integrators across a broad range of markets and applications.

What benefits does the Owlstone detector and its FAIMS technology offer over other sensing technologies?
Using leading-edge nanofabrication techniques, Owlstone has created a complete chemical detection system a hundred times smaller and a thousand times cheaper than other currently available devices.

Compared with other current ion mobility spectrometry (IMS) sensing technologies, Owlstone offers a unique combination of benefits. These include size and weight, reliability, sensitivity, response speed, low power consumption, reduce false positives, versatility and manufacturing cost.

  • Size and Weight: the Owlstone sensor is fabricated on a single chip with linear dimensions of just under a centimeter.
  • Reliability: the Owlstone sensor is a solid state device with no moving parts. It's immune to the effects of mechanical vibration or sudden physical shocks - making it ideal to cope with the rigors of real-world environments from airports and battlefields to factory floors.
  • Sensitivity: the sensor can typically detect chemical agents in concentrations as low as a few parts per billion.
  • Response Speed: the extremely small size of the sensor means that it can respond to the presence of chemical agents far quicker than larger diffusion-type detectors.
  • Low Power Consumption: Operating at low voltages, the detector's solid state design ensures that it consumes far less electrical power than conventional ion mobility spectrometry (IMS) sensors.
  • Reduced False Positives: The sensor's ability to discriminate accurately between different chemical compounds means that anomalous 'false positive' alerts are minimized.
  • Versatility: it's easy to adapt the sensor's ability to detect other threats through changes to on-board software and signal processing alone. The same core technology can therefore be applied to meet application needs across a wide range of market areas and industries.
  • Cost of Manufacture: each sensor can be fabricated at a cost of less than five US dollars - a fraction of the cost of other detector technologies. This makes Owlstone detector technology particularly attractive for high-volume consumer applications, ranging from personal medical care and monitoring to smoke detection.

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