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Miniature metamaterial-based sensing devices for agricultural, environmental and geological applications

This project is devoted to research and development of novel metamaterial-based (mtm-based) passive and active sensing devices for agricultural, environmental and in-ground detection applications. High performance and compact soil-moisture sensors and ground penetrating radars are envisaged.

This project is devoted to research and development of novel metamaterial-based (MTM-based) passive and active sensing devices for agricultural, environmental and in-ground detection applications. The MTM approach will be used to develop passive miniature soil-moisture (s-m) sensors and sensing devices for applications in agriculture, as well as small size ground-penetrating radars (GPR) for in-ground detection of metals, pipes, mines, etc., where components such as antennas and filters need to be miniaturised to meet the demands of the industry. Due to specific interactions with electromagnetic fields, MTMs exhibit properties superior to those found in nature. By tailoring MTM characteristics, components, devices and antennas with unique properties and novel functionalities can be implemented, such as super-compact dimensions, high performance, arbitrary dual-band performance, enhanced bandwidth, arbitrary antenna scanning angles, etc. The purpose of this project is to foster already established cooperation between participating institutions in the development, testing and introduction to the market of novel MTM-based miniature sensing devices for agricultural and geological applications (with the possibility to extend to other fields - environment, security, archaeology, cultural heritage preservation, etc.). The main aim of the project is to reduce size, improve performances and reduce the cost of existing systems, to increase the competitive strength of all participants, to increase market share in existing markets and to enter new markets, and, in the end, to offer new employment opportunities and increase benefits in agricultural industries worldwide, as well as in the field of in-ground detection. Participating institutions have been carefully chosen to foster integration of existing theoretical knowledge and modelling and simulation abilities, with fabrication, integration, testing and measurements capabilities, therefore ensuring that the project goals will be reached, and new MTM-based sensing devices developed, according to the needs of participants from the industry. This project is industry driven: industrial partners in both countries have expressed great need for the foreseen products. Miniature s-m sensors are greatly needed in large quantities for implementation in wireless sensor networks (WSN) that collect all relevant parameters across an open field, vineyard or greenhouse, where water content should be constantly monitored on a great number of locations and at different depths in each location. Although sensor network nodes with all needed communication equipment exist, commercially available s-m sensors are inadequate in terms of size, consumption, precision and price. By implementing miniature low-cost sensors developed in this project into existing WSNs, new data will be provided to agricultural experts, which will help improve the efficiency of the agricultural production and minimise the use of inputs (i.e. fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, etc.). Such sensors may also be applied in cultural heritage protection (i.e. non-destructive wall-moisture measurement), environment, etc. Detection of specific objects placed into the ground (such as metal pipes, mines, etc.) or objects placed in dangerous environments requires tele-detection by means of RADAR systems. In many applications, specifically in-ground detection and monitoring through GPR, the operating frequencies of these systems must be allocated in the lower range of the microwave spectrum (typical 1GHz-10GHz), resulting in a large size and, hence, high cost components for the RF/microwave section of the system. This is mainly due to the large size of state-of-the-art passive components and antennas. Through this project, we plan to implement a microwave module of the GPR system by beyond state-of-the-art MTM-based components, in order to reduce the overall size of the system and provide competitive solutions in terms of market. Such systems may find application in many different scenarios such as security (mine detection, leakage detection in pipes, etc.), archaeology and geology (stone and bone detection, among others), environment, etc. MTMs are the joint technology to be applied in the two cited applications and this justifies the cross-cooperation between the university partners in the project, and the support given to the respective companies. The development of the cited systems also requires expertise at the systems level, mainly provided by the companies. Cross cooperation between the companies is expected at the technology level (know-how share in electronic integrated solutions), and market level (possible new sensing and detection applications by combining expertise, etc.). It is thus the purpose of the project to spread out the companies' products/capabilities in a merge-to-win scheme, thanks to the complementary skills and existing applications of both companies in SERBIA and SPAIN.
Acronym: 
METASENSE
Project ID: 
5 014
Start date: 
01-04-2009
Project Duration: 
33months
Project costs: 
1 620 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Sensors/Multisensor Technology, Instrumentation
Market Area: 
Environment

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