Funded by a two-year Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP), from which GCU will be awarded £140,000, the partners aim to develop the next generation of small, low-cost gaseous oxygen sensors.
Coatbridge-based SST Sensing has aimed to mark itself out from competitors with the development of innovative, low cost, small optical oxygen sensors for industrial applications.
The company has identified opportunities to improve the performance of their sensors, thereby opening up a significantly larger market for the product. For example, making the sensor react much faster to changes in oxygen would allow the sensor to be used in medical breath analysis and accurate measurement of parts per million (ppm) levels.
Having identified a number of potential improvements, but lacking the necessary skills in-house, the company decided that a KTP would be the best way to tackle these challenges. KTP is a part government-funded programme to encourage collaboration between businesses and universities.
SST Sensing also aims to develop new sensors which work effectively at high concentrations of oxygen to supply a growing international market for oxygen concentrators. Another possibility is extending the product family to measure other gases using the same principle of fluorescence quenching.
The project will recruit a PhD graduate to work within SST at Coatbridge and focus on embedding chemistry expertise into the company, with the specific aim of improving the performance of the current oxygen sensor and developing a new oxygen sensor.
GCU has specialised instruments for characterising the sensing polymer, fluorescence spectrometers for calibration, and high resolution microscopes to examine the structural make-up of the polymers.
Patrick Shannon, Technical Director at SST Sensing, said: “We are very much looking forward to working with our chosen KTP Associate and with GCU. Our dealings with GCU so far have been very encouraging.”
The partnership will be led by GCU’s Dr Sheila Smith, Assistant Head of Department with responsibility for Instrumentation, Control and Chemical Sciences within the School of Engineering and Built Environment. She has research interests in optical chemical sensor development with a particular emphasis on fluorescence-based sensing technologies.
Dr Smith said: “SST manufactures all of its instruments in-house, including calibration and testing facilities, where sensors are exposed to thermal cycling. It is a great opportunity for the KTP Associate to be part of an enthusiastic team of engineers, be involved in instrument development and be part of the product journey from prototype right through to an end product.”