mPhase breakthrough MEMS-based magnetometer

Published 12 July 2006

An innovative Connecticut company uses MEMS technology to develop tiny magnetometers which could be used as metal detectors and more

Norwalk, Connecticut-based mPhase Technologies (OTC: XDSL) says that its lab tests have confirmed the ability of its new MEMS sensor to detect the presence of a metal object from more than thirty feet away. The MEMS sensor can thus lead to a new generation of small and highly sensitive magnetometers for a host of military, homeland security, and law enforcement applications, Ronald Durando, mPhase president and CEO, said. “We’ll be doing further real-world testing, and we look forward to conducting follow-up field demonstrations in the coming weeks.”

The prototype magnetometer shows a level of sensitivity which the company says is unparalleled by commercial magnetometers of its size and power consumption. It is designed around a Micro-Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) device based on a breakthroughs made a few years ago at Bell Labs, using facilities of the New Jersey Nanotech Consortium, a Lucent subsidiary operated by Bell Labs in Murray Hill, New Jersey. Acting like a miniature compass, with movements only perceptible under a microscope, the magnetometer prototype detects changes in magnetic fields and could be used in applications to establish direction of movement of magnetic objects. The most recent test of a single un-cooled sensor device involved detection of an ordinary crow bar from a distance of some ten meters, indicating that an array of sensors would be able to detect a rifle from a far greater distance — possibly 100 or more feet away.

In addition to the obvious military and homeland security applications, the technology can be used in civilian venues such as sports arenas to eliminate physical bag searches and patting down of people.