Wireless Sensor Nodes Shrink

Bob Michaels

August 19, 2010

2 Min Read
Wireless Sensor Nodes Shrink

A new wireless sensor node technology could enable the miniaturization of many medical device applications.

Potomac Photonics (Lanham, MD) has demonstrated the feasibility of wireless sensor node miniaturization. To fulfill a National Science Foundation Phase I SBIR contract related to energy storage, electrical distribution, and packaging for wireless sensor networks, the company was tasked with reducing the volume of the current state-of-art wireless sensor package by a factor of ten. It met this challenge by developing new embedded-component 3-D packaging techniques and incorporating an advanced battery from FlexEl LLC to demonstrate the feasibility of constructing sugar-cube-sized sensing nodes with high-density energy storage.

The resulting cost-effective technology can produce nodes of almost arbitrary shape and could revolutionize the manner in which wireless sensors are manufactured, according to the company. Potomac will work with sensing systems developers to incorporate the new technology into their future designs. By addressing critical needs such as size reduction, shape customization, and time to market, the company's technology could play a role in the development of next-generation wireless sensors for healthcare and other applications.

Similar to wireless sensors, active medical devices often must incorporate their own power source and have a means of communication with the external world. Power consumption frequently must be minimized, and conformal geometries are often required for system packaging. In some cases, packaging and overall system performance must be individualized to adapt to the requirements of each user. Hence, in the medical device area, the new technology is suitable for devices that are implanted or worn on the body. It will also benefit a range of other applications, including minimally invasive surgery, hearing aids, insulin monitors and pumps, and smart catheters.

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