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EPSRC CDT in Sensor Technologies for a Healthy and Sustainable Future

Studying at Cambridge



2018 Sensor CDT PhD Showcase Prizes

last modified Oct 26, 2018 03:22 PM

Congratulations go to Oliver Vanderpoorten on winning the Flash Talk prize, and to Peter Pedersen on winning the Networking prize at the Sensor CDT PhD Showcase.  Both are members of the Sensor CDT, and win £100 each.  Our thanks go to Magna for sponsoring the prizes.

2018 Team Challenge Presentation

last modified Aug 01, 2018 10:44 AM


The Sensor CDT MRes students will be giving a final presentation of their fabulous Team Challenge at 10.30am on 17 August 2018 in Lecture Theatre 1, Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology (Philippa Fawcett Drive, Cambridge CB3 0AS).  Everyone is welcome to attend so why not come along and see just what we've been doing over the last few months?

To being everyone up to date, last week the team set out to collect data, but the experiment was compromised by the occasional torrential rainfall. Nonetheless, it was a memorable experience, and a good test run for another attempt at the same experiment this week. Excitingly, sensor hub production is now also running at full speed: we have ordered enough components to build fifty devices, and assembly is about to begin!

Science Makers: 3D Printing for Science - Saturday 5 May

last modified Apr 26, 2018 03:33 PM
SynBio SRI Join us on Saturday 5 May for Science Makers: 3D Printing for Science! This will also be a great opportunity to share ideas and find collaborators for Biomaker Challenge 2018

3D printing opens up a world of custom science instrumentation that can be instantly shared and fabricated around the world. It has been used to build precision microscopes and alignment tools, modify all manner of standard lab kit, visualise 3D structures from imaging data and more.

In this Science Makers, we'll look at a whole range of ideas for 3D printing in science with both plastics and biomaterials. There will be an opportunity to try out some activities and play with hardware in the afternoon following lunch. Please bring along anything 3D-printed that you would like to show and tell!

Science Makers is a monthly event to discuss and build low-cost, DIY and open hardware for science and education.

Addressing civil engineering challenges

last modified Feb 05, 2018 11:45 AM
Sensor CDT students teamed up with students and staff from the Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction to think collectively about sensor solutions to challenges in the built environment.

Students from all Sensor CDT cohorts teamed up with students and staff from the Cambridge Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction to find potential sensor solutions for a variety of challenges and questions in civil engineering and the built environment.


The discussion focused around the detection of cracks and corrosion in steel reinforced concrete, the effects of salt and air pollution on masonry structures and drain blockages.


Together the students developed potential solutions and road maps for future research with the aim to initiate new collaborative networks, linking Cambridge University with other national and international centres of excellence in the field as well as with industry.



Sensor CDT News

News - Read More…

Arduino workshop

last modified Jun 17, 2016 01:51 PM
The Sensor CDT students ran a sell-out workshop on how to use Arduino micro controllers in research labs

Arduino workshop

How to use Arduinos in your research


A team of first and second year Sensor CDT students ran an extremely enjoyable and successful one day workshop on how to use Arduino micro controllers for research applications.

The examples were very well designed.

It was very nice that there were such helpful assistants.

Exactly the kind of level and detail expected.

Very much worth the trip from London.

Great fun! Thanks

attendees 2

group 3 group 2


The workshop, held in the Department of Engineering, was attended by 40 undergraduate and PhD students, researchers and professors from Departments across the University, including Physics, Chemistry, Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Computer laboratory and Zoology. In addition researchers from other universities and industrial R&D staff also attended.

Beginners and advanced users

During the workshop beginners and advanced user alike learned how to read sensor data from analog and digital devices, use interrupt routines and control lab equipment. Controlling the speed of an electric motor was used to demonstrate the capabilities and limitations of Arduino micro controllers.

oliver v 2

complete system bogdan 2

Missed out on this workshop?

We are planning to run similar workshops in the future, so watch this space.

Arrival of the first cohort of CDT student

last modified Oct 14, 2014 09:28 PM
The first cohort of 10 Sensor CDT students has arrived this week.

The first cohort of ten students have embarked on the Sensor CDT course this week. The students, with undergraduate degrees in physics, engineering, biochemistry and biology, have been selected out of a large competitive field of applicants. The three women and seven men come from universities in the UK, Europe and the Far East. The Sensor CDT will offer them a well rounded postgraduate education, providing in-depth technical knowledge, entrepreneurial and business skills and plenty of opportunities to work in teams as well as individually. Mentoring and placements offered by the Sensor CDT's industrial partners will support their research and learning.

From left to right the students are:

Back row: Philip Mair, James Manton, Josie Hughes, Richard Hall, Tiesheng Wang, Oliver Bonner

Front row: Geraldine Baekelandt, Isabella Miele, Omar Ajad, Vitaly Levdik

Assisted Living Technologies

last modified Feb 07, 2017 01:15 PM
Sensor CDT start-up company looking for first round funding. Presentation 21 Feb 2017, 4pm, Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, West Site, Cambridge.
Six students from the first cohort have started a company to develop a technology platform which will help older people to live in their own homes for longer, allowing them to retain their independence and save money.

The start-up of Cambridge Assisted Living Technologies is based on the outcome from the Team Challenge for the first cohort of Sensor CDT students and has already caught the attention of local media (Cambridge TV & Cambridge Evening News) and two FTSE 100 insurance companies who the students are in active discussions with.

The students will present their technology at an event to be held in the

new Chemical Engineering Department building, West Cambridge
at 16:00
on Tuesday 21st February.

They hope to further increase their exposure through the presentation, and hopefully secure their first round of investment.
To register please visit the Cambridge Assisted Living Technologies website: 

Best poster prize for Sensor CDT Student at the Graduate Conference 2018

last modified May 21, 2018 04:04 PM
Sensor CDT student Oliver Vanderpoorten has accomplished yet another milestone in his excellent work. He received the second year poster prize for his research on "Two-photon lithography for nanofluidic device fabrication".

His research was presented during the CEB Graduate Conference, which took place on Wednesday the 25th and Thursday the 26th of April.

Details of further winners can be found on

Biomaker Challenge - deadline extended to 21 July

last modified Jul 11, 2017 02:15 PM
A four-month challenge to build low-cost sensors and instruments for biology

Biomaker challenge_v2.png

OpenPlant, CamBridgeSens SRN and the Synthetic Biology SRI are hosting an interdisciplinary challenge across Cambridge and Norwich. Calling all biologists looking to improve their research and pick up some electronics knowledge, engineers looking to apply their skills and gain experience of practical biology or anyone who is just curious and interested.

Participating teams will each receive a Biomaker Toolkit and a discretionary budget for additional sensors, components, consumables and 3D-printing worth up to £1000. All teams will exhibit their device at the Biomaker Fayre on Saturday October 21st 2017, as part of an open technology exhibition. 

More information and how to apply can be found on the Biomaker website.

CamBike at Sensors Day 2018

last modified Nov 08, 2018 02:49 PM

This year, the Sensor CDT MRes student cohort developed a low-cost air-pollution sensor which could be built and used by the public.  The team presented the results from their team challenge project at Sensors Day 2018.  Take a look at their presentation:


CamBike Sensor Team Receive Global Challenges Research Fund Award

last modified Dec 18, 2018 10:55 AM

Congratulations to the CamBike Sensor Team (Sensor CDT 2017 Cohort) for being awarded the University’s Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) for “Co-creating a context-appropriate mobile air quality sensor network for citizen science in Nairobi".  The team were awarded a grant of £15,000 for the project.

CamBike Update: 10 October 2018

last modified Oct 15, 2018 03:44 PM
CamBike Update: 10 October 2018

CamBike Sensor

This week we would again like to invite you to Sensors Day 2018. We will present the project and show the latest data at the conference on 19 October in Fitzwilliam College, University of Cambridge. If you are interested in attending, you can just drop by (the presentation starts at 12:10 and lasts about half an hour). The entry for you is FREE - you don’t need to register. Just mention that you are a CamBike volunteer at the entrance and they will let you in. We hope to see you there!

Centre for Global Equality

We are happy to announce that we will enter the Global Goals Innovation Cultivator of the Centre for Global Equality ( We will be provided with monthly mentoring sessions, workshops, networking events, connections with experts within specific fields, funding opportunities and peer learning events. This way, we can keep the project running and explore challenges across disciplines, sectors and countries to co-create innovative solutions.


Distribution is ongoing. We are building sensors for you as fast as we can, but it is still a lengthy process. We will let you know as soon as the next batch is ready to hit the road!

We want to include as much data in our presentation next week(!) as possible - if you have a sensor and have not uploaded your latest data, could you please do so before Saturday so that we have enough time to analyse it?

What’s next?

We are currently pretty busy with data analysis. We are writing routines that make the analysis much easier and we are also looking into an intuitive way of plotting bike speeds. This way, we can analyse where bikes get stuck in traffic. We hope to show this new map on Sensors day, so please drop by!

CamBike Update: 15 August 2018

last modified Aug 17, 2018 01:02 PM

Another week was filled with preparations for the children’s workshop that we hosted yesterday at the Centre for Computing History (, and with chasing the last missing components. We are also preparing for the presentation of our first results on Friday in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology at 10:30am.

Ready, steady, solder!

Yesterday, the team hosted a workshop at the Centre for Computing History, in which children and their parents came together to build their very own bike sensors. After a short introduction to the project idea, with the soldering irons already hot, everyone got started. And as (almost) always in electronics, it involved testing lots of connections and subtly adjusting them. We hope that everyone enjoyed it and we’d like to thank everyone who came!

Team Challenge Soldering

A new casing design: Incorporating the PCB

To make assembly easier, we spent the last weeks designing a PCB - a printed circuit board. Its “plug-and-play” design allows you to stick in components you’d like to use and then mount it easily on your bike. And it’s much smaller than you’d think! 

Finally: We are starting distribution

We have identified several days on which we are able to host distribution events. You can find them in a google form on our website. We will implement a lending scheme in the first instance, where you receive a sensor from us and keep it for 1 to 3 weeks. In case something breaks, you can just bring it back to us and we will repair it. If you want to continue to contribute to the project after that, we can give you a sensor to keep. The distribution event will take less than an hour (including an introduction to how the sensor works) and we will help fit in on your bike. The team is based in West Cambridge and we therefore offer a number of “lunchtime” slots where we are very flexible. Just drop by the reception of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology anytime between 11am and 2pm and get your sensor! Some of the afternoon events will be held in the Cambridge Makespace in the city centre for those who can’t easily come to West Cambridge. In short, please sign up on our website!

What’s next?

We will continue to distribute sensors - so please fill in the form online to let us know when you are free. Or just drop us an email! The team will go on holiday during early September so you will hear a bit less from us for a bit, but don’t worry, we’ll be back!

CamBike Update: 21 November 2018

last modified Nov 26, 2018 11:07 AM

We are also looking into building a newer version of the sensor hub that will measure more air quality indicators (such as NO2). Around one of those new sensors, we will organise another workshop at the Centre for Computing History ( With lots of lessons learned at the workshop in summer, we will not solder a whole sensor hub but will concentrate on the principle behind one sensor and its interface with a computer. Read on for more information (and visit the Centre’s website in the next few weeks, where booking will be possible).

Almost there: the sensors are working

Yes, they are working, but the PCBs and sensors still have to be put into their boxes. The testing was finished last week, but we ran into some trouble because the SD cards are now mounted too high above the board (we changed their position slightly to avoid them getting stolen).

CamBike Boxes

We are currently fitting the sensors in their boxes. We have to take care, though, to fix all components in place with small screws to make sure that they don’t come loose when you ride down a bumpy road

Upcoming workshop at the Centre for Computing History

Mark the afternoon of Saturday, 16 February, in your calendar! We will organise a workshop aimed at children aged from 10 onwards. We will tackle the myth that children fall asleep in class because they are lazy and not paying attention - or is it rather that CO2 levels are getting pretty high when 20 to 30 people are in a room and the windows are closed? We will connect the sensor with a computer and do some basic coding to read out values and display them. No previous knowledge is required.

What’s next?

Work on the next generation of sensors will start soon and the database changes are almost completely implemented.

CamBike Update: 22 August 2018

last modified Aug 22, 2018 09:25 AM
CamBike Update: 22 August 2018

The CamBike Team

It’s been an intense week for the CamBike Team, with a presentation at the Department and distribution of more sensors to excited volunteers. Read on to learn more!

Distribution: preliminary data and call for action

The team is happy to present some preliminary data from our first volunteers! There will be 40 devices ready to give out starting from next Monday. If you want to try out a sensor, just sign up via this form:

CamBike Cycle Map
Data collection by an avid cycler (PM2.5, scaled).

Final presentation: impressions and received feedback

The team would like to thank everyone who came to the presentation last Friday. To see what happened, you can watch the talk (and Q&A) on YouTube: The feedback received was consistently positive and the CamBike team hopes you will enjoy it as well!

Casing: a design to show off

Inspired by the visiting artist’s ‘future vision’, the team got to work to design an affordable but durable casing. Laser-cutting was chosen as a scalable method that can work with cheap wooden and acrylic materials. The result is a waterproof (but not airtight) box that shows off the custom-made electronics inside!

CamBike Box

Finally, an assembled CamBike Sensor

What’s next? For now, holiday season…

After 10 very intense weeks, the team deserves a short break. The members will start to depart home at the end of this week. The team will come back to you with more news in two weeks. Don’t worry, there will be air quality data from at least 7 countries to make up for it!

CamBike Update: 24 October 2018

last modified Oct 25, 2018 12:40 PM

A huge thank you to everyone who came to our presentation last week! We enjoyed both the Sensor PhD Showcase and Sensors Day very much and hope you did as well. The presentation we gave is a bit too large to upload (over 100MB) - we shouldn’t have shown so many small videos! We will prepare a condensed version without the videos and upload it to the website in the next few days. Until then, the most important results that we presented are shown below, so read on!

We have analyzed more than 150 hours of data, more than 2 million datapoints. This sounds like a lot but over the coming months, we would like to have billions! So please be patient, we are building new sensors every week.

Lots of data

Finally, here are time-resolved maps of the Cambridge city centre! Grouped in morning and afternoon, it is very interesting to see which way people go.

CamBike City Centre1

From 7 to 9 am when commuters arrive in the city, we can see that the highest PM levels are found around the station and on the way into the city centre. That’s logical - and we are glad to see this. But what happens later in the day, when lazy PhD students slowly wake up? From 9 to 11 am, the highest levels are found on Newmarket Road and on Madingley Road (where the PhD students go to work). On these maps, we show the averaged data from areas where we have the most data points. As can be seen easily, most people come into the city centre before 9 am, and between 9 and 11, most volunteers were moving around in the city centre itself (not even including the train station), coming in from Madingley Road or going to West Cambridge. What about later in the day?

CamBike Stuttgart

We can see the activity around the city centre increases, as do the PM values, probably as people are going in and out for lunch. A very interesting plot is shown on the right side: the post school time/afternoon rush hour. You can see Mill road getting a lot busier around that time, as well as a few other areas, as one might expect. We can clearly see a difference in Tenison Raoad, close to Mill Road. There is a primary school and it's pretty clear that there may be a lot parents coming to pick up their children with cars, as shown by that hotspot of high PM values. If that is the case, they should be considering the comparatively bad air their children breathe in every day.

However, not all is that bad! From our data we can see that Cambridge has on average has much lower PM values than some other areas around the world. For example, compared to Stuttgart in Germany, where a large, stationary network using the same PM sensors is currently active, and that we can therefore directly compare to, the air quality in Cambridge is much better.
But we also have speed data, and here we show the map:

CamBike Speed Data

In green areas, you are making the most of the bike. In yellow areas, you could be doing better, but it’s probably not your fault. It’s probably the bunch of tourists who are getting in your way, such as around the library. And then there are the red areas, where you are better off walking. There are also some areas, such as the market square, where people are not actually riding their bike but walk instead which is why it appears in red.

You can also look at some results directly on our website at You can find the plots as well as non-geotagged data. To access the geotaggged data (that’s the interesting part), just email us and we will send you the file. We have removed every first and last 200m of every recorded track, ensuring the privacy of our volunteers.

Recap: Sensors PhD Showcase and Sensors Day 2018

Again, thank you for coming! Both days were a real success and we got the opportunity to talk to many interested people. There were lots of amazing talks and we would like to thank all the organisers for making the two wonderful days possible. Especially Karen and Oliver, who had the idea of CamBike bike lights! Below are some pictures.

CamBike Sensors Day

The CamBike Team after the presentation

CamBike Stand

The CamBike Sensor stand. Empty, because we took the picture before the conference attendees came

CamBike in Argentina

The sensor has made the long journey successfully. We just got a first picture from Buenos Aires (and more once the weather is better).

CamBike Argentina

Norberto Vidal, the Secretary of Environment and Sustainable Development in Argentina, is going to test it there in the next weeks. We are looking forward to the results (and possible challenges).


Distribution is ongoing. We are building sensors for you as fast as we can, but it is still a lengthy process. We will let you know as soon as the next batch is ready to hit the road!

What’s next?

We will have quite a few meetings over the course of the next days, we are for example looking into incorporating Alphasense sensors ( to extend our measurements to different gases. But now we will really focus on distribution. We will let you know once we have a date and location for the next bigger distribution event.

CamBike Update: 31 October 2018

last modified Nov 07, 2018 11:02 AM

Another week has gone by and we were busy soldering/building new sensors. Our seafaring sensor has come back safely from its trip with SailBritain (we have some wonderful pictures below). We will also propose a very interesting CamBike-related group design project to Part IB Computer Science students as part of their practical work in Lent term (more of this in the next weeks). And last but not least we are going to work together with the Centre for Global Equality and Nairobi Makespace to develop a version of the sensor that can be used even further away from Cambridge, in Kenya.

A sensor on a cruise

A CamBikeSensor was part of the crew on SailBritain's final trip of this year from London to Ipswich. Thanks a lot for your support and taking our sensor along - the photos are wonderful!


Goodbye London!

Sensors on a Cruise

Hello Ipswich!

But the trip resulted in more than pictures, the sensor collected a lot of data. Of course, the situation on sea is very different compared to a street in Cambridge, and we were eagerly awaiting the results. On the 4-day long trip, the weather changed quite a bit. On day 1 (gentle dry winds that were getting stronger over the course of the day), the air quality was good, as it was not very humid. On day 2, when the wind was much weaker, we can probably see the effects of being surrounded by lots of water - a higher amount of water in the air causes particles to clump together which in turn artificially rises the measured amount of PM. This is clearly visible on day 3, when it was foggy. As soon as the fog dissipated, the values are back in the green region. They stay green on day 4, which had gentle winds again.

What does that teach us? For once, weather really makes a difference. We can clearly see how fog influences the readings. This means that there are some challenges left if particulate matter sensors are to be employed in an environment where larger humidity changes are rapid and common - as they are on sea. But we are not discouraged and will hopefully continue those kinds of experiments!

Sail Map

The PM2.5 readings from the trip, the red squares show when the data was taken

Investing in the future

We gave the new SensorCDT cohort a hands-on introduction to CamBike this Monday. They connected the PM sensor to Arduinos and wrote a short program to take readings and display them. That’s a good start into their guided sensor project. We are already looking forward to their Team Challenge!

MRes Guided Sensor

Let the programming begin!


We are alomst ready to give out the next batch! We will send out emails to interested volunteers soon with more information.

What’s next?

We are currently working on improving our database and data file upload system. We will therefore have to ask all our volunteers who have already collected data to check if their login still works (don’t worry, we will send around a separate email in the next days with more details). This will keep the “tech team” busy until next week. The rest of the team will build sensors and write grant applications to be able to start the work with Nairobi Makespace.  

CamBike Update 5 December 2018

last modified Dec 06, 2018 09:19 AM

We had a wonderful evening yesterday when we gave a presentation at Camcycle’s monthly meeting. We are also doing an inventory to make sure we know how many sensor kits we have. The sensors that we built are all working but still need to be secured in their boxes. Some of them will go directly to Scotland to the Highland Cycling Campaign and we are already looking forward to the data they will collect.

The Camcycle meeting

Yesterday, we spoke at the Camcycle meeting about the CamBike Sensor project and also did some new data analysis where we focused on Mill Road (do check out their website about a vision for Mill Road at
We found quite a few interesting points! In the morning, our volunteers avoided Mill Road completely (maybe because the traffic is slow?). Instead they apparently used the bridge at the station, but the PM levels there are actually the worst of the whole area!

Mill Road then gets busy around lunchtime. Something interesting happens between 3 and 6 pm, when parents pick up their children from school. The worst levels can at this time be found close to a primary school on Tenison Road! This is probably due to parents waiting in their cars with the engines running. Our data therefore confirms what lots of campaigners for clean air have called for. There are for example two interesting articles about that issue in the Guardian and the Independent.

The PM levels directly on Mill Road are also higher during rush hour than at noon. Below, you can see 4 maps (one that shows the average of all times of day and the 3 others that were just mentioned).

CamBike Mill Road All Day

CamBike Mill Road Early Morning

CamBike Mill Road Late Morning

CamBike Mill Road Afternoon

We would like to thank all our volunteers and everyone who supported the project so far and we wish you a happy new year!

CamBike Update: 6 September 2018

last modified Sep 06, 2018 10:39 AM

The CamBike team members have been enjoying their (well-deserved) holiday and of course combined it with some data collection. Read on to also learn more about the first major distribution event!


The first batch of CamBike sensors in wooden boxes has hit the road! The sensors were given out to interested members of the public and the first data have already been collected! Here ( you can watch a video about the distribution event!

The new design: PDB and wood - no more loose connections, waterproof, not airtight, good-looking.

The new design: PDB and wood - no more loose connections, waterproof, not airtight, good-looking

Sensor Hub

First Data

Insights into the sensor hub and first data (scaled)

Greetings from the Alps

A part of the team spent their holidays in the Alps, enjoying the good air and wonderful hikes. Of course, a CamBike sensor was brought along. Here is some data and a truly wonderful picture of the landscape.

Box in Alps

Alps Data

Data collection can be so much fun, especially in a landscape like this.

What’s next? For now, stilll holiday season…

The team is still scattered around Europe but will come back to you with the next newsletter in two weeks. Don’t worry, there will be air quality data from more countries to make up for it! There will also be another distribution event on 17 September and if you registered on our (waiting) list, we will send you an email closer to the time with more information. The whole team will be back in Cambridge on 24 September. But if you have any questions or problems with the sensors, don't hesitate to contact us!

CamBike Update: 7 November 2018

last modified Nov 08, 2018 03:27 PM

This week’s newsletter is a fairly short one. We are slowly redistributing sensors from volunteers who have been collecting data for the last months. We are also working on the next batch (we ran out of screws and had to order again). And we are finishing a grant application while the deadline keeps coming closer every day. In the meantime, we finally edited and cut the recording of our presentation and the Q&A from Sensors Day 2018. So if you missed it, now is your chance to watch it at

A quick comment on humidity

The weather in the last days (or weeks) has not been the best. The very nature of particulate matter means that it clumps together when the relative humidity is higher than about 70 percent. On days like today, this means that the sensors give unusually high readings. So don’t worry if you see the data. When analyzing it, we take the humidity in Cambridge into account, but the current version of the sensor sadly doesn’t have its own humidity sensor (we have plans to change that, but that means we have to change the PCB - tedious work, but it will be done). Even the council PM sensors have the same problem. We are looking into a way to correct for humidity, but we don’t want to falsify the data.


The newest boxes are cut and mostly glued (waiting for varnish to cope with the humidity). As soon as we know when everything will be finished and tested, we will let you know.

CamBike Boxes

 Boxes waiting for screws, sensors and varnish

What’s next?

The promised update of the database is not quite finished yet, so we will work on that. The team will also visit AlphaSense ( next week to get more information on their gas sensors. We would like to expand the current sensor hub to measure different gases (while still keeping the price low) and we will keep you updated.

CamBike Update: 8 August 2018

last modified Aug 13, 2018 01:26 PM

Thank you to everyone who attended the Makeathon at Cambridge Makespace on 3 August 2018.  There were lots of interesting discussions and sketches of new ideas, and by the end of the day even a real-life induction-charging system.

Graduating from tape to cable tie: designing mounting systems

Before the Makeathon, the team were using tape to attach the hubs to their bikes, a rather cumbersome ‘solution’ to the mounting problem. During the Makeathon, many new ideas for the casing and mounting were suggested, and one brave volunteer took home a cable tie-attached sensor for a first test run.

A farewell to wires: the production of a printed circuit board

We’ve been designing a printed circuit board (PCB) for our sensor hub, which will allow us to pack all our different components into as little space as possible. Our PCB is technically a printed wiring board: the board contains plugs that fit the pins associated with each of our components, and copper wires within the board provide the right point-to-point connections between the plugs, allowing the components to interact in the right way. With the PCB, you will therefore be able to simply plug all components into place to assemble the system, and so there will no longer be a risk of the hub malfunctioning due to important wires coming loose!

Makespace Upgrade

Cambridge EPSRC Centre in Sensor Technologies announced

last modified Apr 16, 2014 02:38 PM
The department of Chemical Engineering will host the EPSRC CDT in Sensor Technologies and Applications, which will involve 50 academics and 20 departments across the University of Cambridge. The programme is strongly supported by leading industries who have committed to the programme with studentships and training.
"I am thrilled about this development", says Professor Clemens Kaminski, director of the CDT.  "Sensor research has become a vastly complex and multidisplinary activity and has to be recognised as an academic discipline in its own right.  The CDT will function like a virtual superdepartment in Cambridge, providing training for more than 50 outstanding PhD students to produce the next generation of leaders in the field."

The CDT builds on the foundations of CamBridgeSens, the University's network for sensor research.  It brings together world-leading expertise, infrastructure and people from more than 20 departments across Cambridge.  The programme will be underpinned by a consortium of industrial partners, which is tightly integrated into the CDT and through its needs and engagement will inform its direction. In the first year of their 4 year PhD programme, student cohorts will attend specialised lectures, practicals and research mini-projects, to receive training in a
range of topics underpinning sensor research, including physical principles of sensor hardware, acquisition and interpretation of sensory information, and user requirements of sensor applications. Team-building aspects will be strongly emphasised, and through an extended sensor project treated as a team challenge in the first year of their programme, the
students will together, as a cohort, face a problem of industrial relevance and learn how to address a research problem as a team rather than individually. The cohorts will be supported by a mix of academic and industrial mentors, and will receive business, presentation and project-management skills. During years 2 to 4 of their PhD course, students will pick a PhD topic offered by the more than 50 PIs participating in the CDT. Each topic on offer will be supervised by at least two academics from different departments/disciplines and may include industrial partners.
"We are now recruiting the first cohort of outstanding students for the Sensor CDT, to start in October 2014", says the programme manager of the CDT, . "Interested students should register their interest with me as soon as possible.  The formal application portal will be open over the coming days."

Sensor CDT spin-out company to disrupt assisted living technology market

last modified Feb 27, 2017 04:39 PM
Allowing older people to live in their own homes for longer
Sensor CDT spin-out company to disrupt assisted living technology market

The team. Back: Richard Hall; Omar Amjad; Philip Mair. Front: Josie Hughes; Oliver Bonner; Isabella Miele.

A new startup, set up by six science and technology students studying towards their PhD in the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Sensor Technologies and Applications, is developing an innovative technology platform with the potential to revolutionise at-home care for older people in the UK.

Cambridge Assisted Living Technologies (Cambridge ALT), was set up with the aim of allowing older people to live in their own home for longer and develops technology that is inspired by a team project that the students conducted as part of their CDT training programme. 

On Friday 17 February 2017, the startup met with Daniel Zeichner MP, Member of Parliament for Cambridge, to discuss the potential impact of their new product on the lives of local residents and older people across the country.

With an ever increasing population, and the very high cost of care, there is a need to help older people live safe and healthy lives whilst ensuring they can retain their independence. Cambridge ALT have developed a system using the latest in wireless technology and intelligent data processing to learn what normal activity in the home looks like. When an abnormal event is detected, an alert is securely sent to a trusted friend or family member.

Oliver Bonner, a co-founder of Cambridge ALT, said: "Existing Assisted Living Technology systems use data from single sensors to generate basic alerts. Our modular system uses many sensors such as light level, appliance monitoring for the TV or kettle, and door sensors, to build a holistic picture of what a person’s normal daily routine looks like."

As Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Data Analytics, Daniel Zeichner MP is helping to establish links between businesses, academia and the public to improve policy making in the use of data. He commented: "Cambridge ALT are harnessing the latest in data processing techniques to help older people retain their independence and improve well-being." He went on to say: "There is a technological gap in the provision of care, and Cambridge ALT are pushing forward their innovative system to fulfil this need."

Cambridge ALT are in the early stages of their commercial development and are actively seeking seed investment to develop the system further.

Josie Hughes, another co-founder, said: "By installing our system at home, older people can be given a safety net so that if an event, such as a fall, were to happen, assistance can be given as soon as possible. This will also give peace of mind to friends and families."

Clemens Kaminski, director of the Sensor CDT, commented: "This remarkable achievement attests to the high quality of the students that come into the Sensor CDT and their diversity of skills and interests, ranging all the way from socially responsible innovation to entrepreneurship. I am very proud of what these students have achieved and thrilled to see what can result if a few bright minds get together to drive a collective idea.  I wish them good luck and fortune in their endeavours!"

Cambridge TV interviews CDT students about their research to develop a sensor suite for assisted living

last modified Aug 05, 2016 10:14 AM

CDT students, Oliver Bonner and Josie Hughes, from the first cohort were interviewed recently on Cambridge TV about the Sensor Team Challenge on assisted living technology. The project was carried out in the final term of the MRes year at the Sensor CDT and involved the entire cohort working together as a group.

Watch the interview to find out more about the project and to hear why the technology developed has a particular relevance to a society with an ageing population.

The outcome of this research was recently published in the Royal Society's Interface Focus journal. Full coverage of the story can be found on the University of Cambridge website.

Beacon Project Collaboration with MedImmune

last modified May 24, 2016 05:37 PM


MedImmune is supporting the Sensor CDT as part of its Beacon project

Researchers from MedImmune and the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology are collaborating on a number of projects in the areas of bio-engineering, -processing and -pharmaceuticals.

This Beacon Project collaboration is part of the pharmaceutical cluster in Cambridge, addressing fundamental questions and challenges in this area.

Research students from the Sensor CDT are part of this collaboration, working on the detection of amyloid proteins and high resolution / high throughput imaging to understand spores and viruses.



Studentship available: Protein Folding of Antibody Drugs

last modified Apr 13, 2016 12:54 PM

We are recruiting for a fully funded 1+3 years MRes + PhD studentship, in collaboration with MedImmune, starting in October 2016. 

For more information please have a look at the project details.

Please note that this studentship is only open to UK and EU nationals.

The deadline for applications is Friday, 13 May 2016.

EPSRC IAA PDA Grant Awarded

last modified Feb 05, 2019 10:44 AM
EPSRC IAA PDA Grant Awarded

Pelumi Oluwasanya

Sensor CDT Student, Pelumi Oluwasanya, and his supervisor, Dr Luigi Occhipinti (Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge), have been awarded an ESPRC IAA PDA grant.  The project will run from 1 April to 30 September 2019.

The grant is a Partnership Development Award (PDA) with Applied NanoDetectors who will supply £45k in-kind support and £5k in cash, to match the £45k EPSRC award. 

Capacitive Detection

Pelumni's PhD research is on the detection and monitoring of particulate matter of sizes smaller than 2.5 microns (PM2.5) in aerodynamic diameter.  Epidemiological studies have shown that exposure to these particles beyond safe limits can be lethal both in the short and the long term.  Data from Air Quality monitoring centers have low spatial resolution, and are arguable non-representative of personal exposure.  The team's goal is to make a miniaturised PM2.5 sensor suitable for this and other applications.

They have shown that detection and monitoring of this is possible via a coplanar capacitive setup, where the device made can effectively separate PM10 from PM2.5 and cause them to be deposited on different sensor surfaces using thermophoresis.

Pelumi Sensor

To further improve sensitivity and miniaturize even more, they are now exploring a MEMS-based implementation of the same device.  This has several benefits such as higher sensitivity and, by implication, smaller parasitic capacitances, ease of integration in smart devices such as smart phones, providing the possibility for non-intrusive/passive personal exposure studies and subsequently online crowd sourcing of air pollution data.

EPSRC National Science Photograph Competition Prize Winner Announced: Peter Pedersen

last modified Jun 28, 2019 10:47 AM
EPSRC National Science Photograph Competition Prize Winner Announced: Peter Pedersen

The image was taken in the Alps, on 1 September 2018, with an Android phone

The 2019 National Science Photography Competition, organised by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) part of UK Research and Innovation, has recently announced the winners.  We are proud to announce Peter Pedersen (Sensor CDT 2017 cohort) won a prize in the Equipment and Facilities category for 'Citizen science abroad'.

Taking our sensor hub that our group developed abroad in the Alps was all part of a citizen science initiative, called Cambike Sensor, on measuring the air pollution that cyclists are subjected to on a day-to-day basis around Cambridge. The aim of the project was to engage members of the public, children and adults alike with the technology and science behind measuring air pollution, and how easy it can be for anyone at home to get involved.

Competition judge, Dr Hayaatun Sillem, CEO of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said: “The striking photographs in this year’s competition reflect the real breadth and ingenuity of engineering research supported by the EPSRC.  Many of the projects captured in these images will go on to transform our world for the better, improve people’s lives and the economy. It is fantastic to see such creativity, both in the images and the research projects, captured in the winners’ work.”

Fellow judge, Professor Sarah Sharples, EPSRC Board member and Pro Vice Chancellor for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Nottingham said: “Judging was not easy, there were some really arresting images that prompted a need to know more. They really demonstrate the breadth of the EPSRC portfolio of research and how it touches people’s lives.”

The competition attracted 169 entries which were drawn from researchers in receipt of EPSRC funding, which were grouped into five categories. 

The judges were:

Sarah Sharples - EPSRC Board member and Associate Pro Vice Chancellor for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Nottingham.

Hayaatun Sillem – CEO of the Royal Academy of Engineering

Kedar Pandya – Associate Director, Business Engagement at the EPSRC

Martin Keene – Group Picture Editor, Press Association

First student cohort has successfully completed the MRes

last modified Sep 24, 2015 04:07 PM
The first cohort has completed their eleven months MRes course and is now preparing to embark on their individual PhD projects in five different Departments.

The first cohort of ten Sensor CDT students has successfully completed the MRes. Over the last eleven months the students attended a set of bespoke and in-depth lectures, received training on numerous advanced equipment across the University and carried out three projects of increasing complexity.

Their final project on a sensor suite which will help elderly people living a more independent life was a three months team effort. It was supported by mentors from the health care industry and some of the CDT's core industrial partners and supervisors. The results of the project, which already have received a lot of positive comments, will be presented at the Sensors Day.

The students are now embarking on their individual PhD projects in the Departments of Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Materials Science, Physics and Biochemistry. Topics include adaptive tactile sensing for robotics, measuring protein aggregation in primary containers for the pharmaceutical industry, bore well monitoring in oil and gas installations, ultrahigh throughout screening using micro droplets and advanced image processing for optical sensing.

Francesca van Tartwijk Awarded Robert Barnes Prize

last modified Nov 19, 2018 12:33 PM


Congratulations go to Francesca van Tartwijk, of the 2017 student cohort, who was awarded the Robert Barnes Prize (Chemical Engineering/Biotechnology) (established 2018) last week.  The prize is awarded to a graduate student who, having obtained a distinction in the examinations, attains the highest aggregate mark from among all Queens' candidates for that examination, in either subject.  

Hitachi Studentship with EPSRC CDT in Sensor Technologies and Applications

last modified May 15, 2019 12:10 PM

The EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Sensor Technologies and Applications, in collaboration with Hitachi, is inviting applications for a fully funded 1+3 years MRes + PhD studentship, commencing in October 2019. The studentship will be hosted in the BioNanoEngineering group ( in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, but will be shared with Department of Radiology, University of Cambridge. The Studentship aims at developing novel radiolabeled nanoparticles for tracking delivery of therapeutic readionuclides and chemotherapeutics to hard-to-treat cancers. This is inspired by recent developments in nanocarrier design, which provided an opportunity to improve the delivery and efficiency of therapeutics for cancer treatment. However, despite the developments, only few nanotechnology inspired formulations made it to the market due to the lack of control over mechanical and physiochemical properties of carriers, limited biological barrier penetration and limited data on their post-drug delivery fate. We want to combine radiolabels, biocompatible nanocarrier and therapeutic cargo to prepare multifunctional nanoparticle system for targeting lung and pancreatic cancer. This work will be performed across the Departments of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, Radiology and Oncology, and it will involve use of chemical approaches to nanocarrier design, validation of nanocarriers in in-vivo systems and PET imaging. 

For more information, please visit

Kick off reception at Trinity College

last modified Sep 04, 2014 09:21 PM
The Sensor CDT marks the start of the CDT with a reception and dinner at Trinity College for academic and industrial partners.

In the run-up to the the imminent arrival of the first student cohort in a month's time, the Sensor CDT starts in style with a drinks reception and dinner at Trinity College.

reception 2reception 1
reception 4 reception 5
reception 11reception 12reception 10

This was a great opportunity for CDT supervisors, members of the industrial consortium and the CDT management and steering teams to meet, mingle and exchange ideas. The academic and industrial partners expressed real interest in contributing to the Sensor CDT and engaging with the programme.  More than 40 members attended the event.

Clemens Kaminski, the CDT director, gave a brief overview of the aims of the Sensor CDT and an update on the organisational progress and student numbers.

reception 9

Many sensor related projects, research and collaborations were discussed over an excellent dinner in the Allhusen Room with its Leslie MacDonnald ("Max") Gill wind dial from 1926 on one of the walls - an example of an early "remote sensor".

dinner 1dinner 2
dinner 5 dinner 3


Leete Award for Chris Valentine

last modified Dec 06, 2016 05:17 PM
Prestigious prize awarded to Sensor CDT student Chris Valentine

Sensor CDT student Chris Valentine was awarded the Leete Premium award for the research he will be carrying out as part of his PhD studies.

The Leete Award is given annually by the Engineer’s Trust toy a 1st year PhD student based at the Institute of Manufacturing (IfM), which is part of the Department of Engineering, Cambridge University. The award is the legacy of Dr. David Leete and has the stated intention to encourage manufacturing research to be undertaken by students.

For his PhD studies, Chris will be developing carbon nanotube based electrochemical sensors under the supervision of Dr. Michael De Volder (IfM) and Dr. Adrian Fisher (Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology). Feedback on Chris’ project stated that “The proposal described a credible fusing of established technologies as the starting point of the manufacture of much improved low cost sensors on-a-chip for gases, with prospects of advancing the products and their manufacture during the project.”.

Chris commenced the work in October 2016 and is looking forward to the next 3 years of exciting study.


MedImmune joins Sensor CDT industrial consortium

last modified Jun 03, 2015 03:12 PM
The pharmaceutical company MedImmune will sponsor up to two Sensor CDT studentships per year.

The international pharmaceutical company MedImmune has joined the consortium of industrial partners of the Sensor CDT. With its major R&D hub based in Cambridge, MedImmune has already strong links with individual researchers from Cambridge University and the Sensor CDT. Over the coming years MedImmune will support up to two PhD studentships per year in sensor areas related to pharmaceutical research. Students will be able to join the Sensor CDT with the agreement to pursue their PhD on a MedImmune project after completing their MRes year.

MRes mini-research projects

last modified Apr 03, 2017 04:24 PM
Poster session on interdisciplinary sensor research

The 2016-17 MRes mini-research projects are drawing to a close. Last Wednesday, oral presentations filled a whole morning and the afternoon’s poster session saw the students engaging with the research community at the Department of Chemical Engineering & Biotechnology.

This year the interdisciplinary projects crossed the Departments of Engineering, Chemical Engineering & Biotechnology, Physics, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Materials Science and Geography, and the diversity of the field of “sensor” applications and technology is reflected in the choice of projects.

Examples of projects:

  • Therapeutic Antibody Protein Folding
  • Surface modification of Metal-Organic Frameworks
  • Detection and characterisation of amyloid protein strains using H-D exchange mass spec
  • Developing Cost-efficient Spectrometers for Real-time Biomedical Sensing
  • Use Förster resonance energy transfer to enhance the photophysical properties of an existing photo-modulatable fluorescent
  • High throughput imaging of amyloid fibril elongation and interactions using microfluidics
  • Dynamics of mechanotransduction in single motile cells
  • Lasers, rubidium and ultra-low magnetic fields: reducing the response time of an alkali-vapor magnetometer for ultra-low-field magnetic resonance
  • Development of a prototype sensing system to detect the frequency and magnitude of turbidity currents in Adventfjorden, Spitsbergen – a feasibility study
  • Modelling nonlinear behaviour in superconducting microresonators used in sensing applications in astronomy space science and quantum technologies
  • Novel 3-D Printed Platform Approach for Gas Sensing Development
  • Time of flight X-ray imaging

MRes student Josie Hughes publishes research outcome from Mini Project

last modified May 13, 2015 12:48 PM
Josie Hughes publishes the results from her Mini Project on noise monitors connected via a Bluetooth Low Energy network in the International Journal on Smart Sensing and Intelligent Systems

Josephine Hughes, an MRes student in the first cohort of the Sensor CDT has just published the results from her 8 week Mini Project entitled "Development of wireless sensor network using Bluetooth Low Energy for construction noise monitoring" in the International Journal on Smart Sensing and Intelligent Systems.

The paper focuses on noise detection and monitoring around the construction site of the London Bridge Station redevelopment and compares the performance and cost of different network technologies. The Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) network was capable of identifying and locating vehicle noise around the construction site. The low cost of the system would allow to deploy a large number of sensor nodes around a construction site to monitor noise with great spatial resolution. Other types of sensors, e.g. temperature and humidity could be easily added to the network.

Josie has an Engineering degree from Cambridge University, where she specialised in Electrical and Information Engineering and gained particular experience in low cost open access technology during her final year project.

New building - Topping out ceremony

last modified Jul 14, 2014 12:37 PM
New building for the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology


The new building for the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, which is providing the hub for the CDT in Sensor Technologies and


Applications, is being built on the University's West Cambridge Site. This new building will bring the Sensor CDT  in close proximity to the activities of most of the other CDTs awarded to the University of Cambridge. Situated near the Cavendish Physics Laboratory, the Computer Laboratory, the Nanoscience Centre, Electrical Engineering and the Institute for Manufacturing the building will feature state of the art laboratory and teaching space and dedicated facilities to host the Sensor CDT cohort.  We are delighted to see the progress with the building which is on plan to be ready for the 2nd cohort of students to enter the CDT in 2015.  Have a look at the  video of the top out ceremony.

New Centre for Infrastructure Sensing

last modified Feb 06, 2017 03:08 PM
The University will be receiving 18 million pounds to develop a new national Centre for Infrastructure Sensing on the West Cambridge Site.

The University of Cambridge will receive £18 million in funding to ensure that the UK’s infrastructure is resilient and responsive to environmental and economic impacts. The funding will be used to support  research in the application of advanced sensor technologies to the monitoring  of the UK’s existing and future infrastructure, in order to protect and maintain it.

The funding is part of the wider UK Collaboration for Research in Infrastructure & Cities (UKCRIC), which is a £138 million capital investment that will be centred around the Olympic Park in Stratford and will include 13 university partners from across the UK.

The Cambridge funding will be used to build a National Research Facility for Infrastructure Sensing on the West Cambridge site, which will build upon the expertise of the University’s Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction (CSIC).  The new building will be an interdisciplinary centre for sensors and instrumentation for infrastructure monitoring and assessment, spanning scales from an individual asset, such as a tunnel, building or bridge, to a complex system such as a railway or a city district. More advanced sensors and appropriate data analysis will ensure better product quality, enhanced construction safety, and smarter asset management.

We hope to set up an exciting collaboration between this new centre and the Sensor CDT.

Read more

New paper published in Microsystems and Nanoengineering

last modified Sep 17, 2019 08:46 AM

Sensor CDT student, Oliver Vanderpoorten has paper "Scalable integration of nano-, and microfluidics with hybrid lithography", by Vanderpoorten et al, published in Microsystems and Nanoengineering (Nature publishing group) as featured highlight article on the main homepage.  

Congratulations to Oliver!

New Sensor CDT Students have arrived!

last modified Oct 05, 2018 03:53 PM
New Sensor CDT Students have arrived!

Sensor CDT 2018 Cohort

The 2018 cohort of Sensor CDT students arrived on 1 October 2018.  They were introduced to the CDT Team, current student cohorts and PIs, provided with course information, and treated with tons of health and safety advice!  Quite a lot to take in on the first day.

We have a cohort of 15 exceptionally strong students joining the CDT this year, raising the total in the program to well over 60.  They come from a diverse range of scientific backgrounds including physics, life sciences, chemistry and engineering disciplines. The wide ranging expertise they bring into the CDT is essential to tackle the ambitious, interdisciplinary research challenges the CDT offers and to offer the unique training environment where peers learn from peers.

Tess Skyrme and Chris Valentine   Olli Pelumi   Lorena Chris

Exciting years ahead and busy times - we wish them  luck and success!

Sarah Barron and Chiara Barberio   Matthew and Jan   Erika   Theo Baissas   Chyi

Open Technology Week 2015

last modified Jul 27, 2015 03:15 PM
MRes student Tiesheng Wang presents a Sensor Team Challenge prototype at this year's Open Technology Week.

A prototype sensor for monitoring elderly people in their own home has been presented at the 2015 Open Technology Week which runs from 26-30 July at a number of venues across Cambridge.

Open Technology Week - an opportunity for
the Sensor CDT to get involved



Make-athon in Cambridge Makespace - meet likeminded people in a supportive and innovative setting.

Made within 2h: a prototype microfluidics well for biophysics experiments
Programme Manager Oliver Hadeler joined a team of physicists and engineers to look at different ways to manufacture microfluidic devices. A well with a diameter of 100µm was cut into perspex with a laser cutter and inspected using a modified Raspberry Pi camera. This process cuts out the multi-step lithography process used to make microfluidic devices in PDMS.

Future work: develop advanced microfluidic devices and make them in the Institute of Manufacturing.


 MRes student Tiesheng Wang presented the Sensor Box to an audience of enthusopen_technology_20150726_tiesheng_1iastic engineers and scientist from academia and industry in the Department of Engineering. The Sensor Box contains sensors to monitor temperature, light level, movement and noise inside a person's home and sends the data to a server for further processing. E.g. if an elderly person normally gets up at 7am in the morning the light levels will go up. If this event is missing a smart algorithm will trigger an alarm and alert carers, family or friends.


The sensor is developed using open source hardware such as mbed or Particle board processors. The technological challenges are to reduce power consumption while ensuring a reliable connection to the server. The students use lab spaces across the University, e.g. Engineering shown on the right.

Raising the Bar - Unsung hero award

last modified Dec 21, 2016 11:18 AM
Josephine Hughes is runner-up of the "Unsung hero award" for her work in organising the RoboCup Junior competition

Josie Hughes, a Sensor CDT student in the first cohort, has been involved in organising the RoboCup Junior competition for some time. In 2015 she went to Hefei in China to help running the event.

RoboCup Junior encourages young people between 10 and 19 years of age to learn coding and engineering. Josie is actively encouraging students from Suffolk in the east of England to get involved. Her work has enabled students to take part in national and international robot competitions.

Her hard work behind the scenes has been recognised with the "Unsung Hero Award" as part of the Suffolk Raising the Bar Awards in June 2016.

Robotic hand 'plays' piano

last modified Dec 21, 2018 06:21 PM
Josie Hughes from the 2014 cohort has developed a robotic hand which mimics the movements of a human hand to play piano. Using soft and rigid parts the robotic hand helps to understand the complex movements of the human hand.


This robotic hand was developed by Josie Hughes, Perla Maiolino and Fumiya Iida from the Biologically Inspired Robotics Group at the Engineering Department, University of Cambridge.

While the bones and ligaments have been replicated in the robotic hand it cannot move its fingers independently. Still, by just changing the hands position and rotating it around its wrist it can play simple tunes on the piano.

The aim of the research is to understand the role of physical design in the development of robots without relying on active control.


Josie comments that the research can be extended to investigate how even more complex manipulation tasks we can be achieved, e.g. developing robots which can perform medical procedures or handle fragile objects. She says: “This approach also reduces the amount of machine learning required to control the hand; by developing mechanical systems with intelligence built in, it makes control much easier for robots to learn.”

Read more here.

J.A.E. Hughes, P. Maiolino, F. Iida. ‘An Anthropomorphic Soft Skeleton Hand Exploiting Conditional Models for Piano Playing.’ Science Robotics (2018). DOI: 10.1126/scirobotics.aau3098

Senior Teaching fellows appointed for the Sensor CDT

last modified Sep 02, 2014 10:23 PM
Dr Tanya Hutter and Dr Fernando da Cruz Vasconcellos join us as senior teaching fellows in charge of educational delivery


Welcome to Fernando da Cruz Vasconcellos and Tanya Hutter

We would like to welcome the new senior teaching fellows, Dr. Fernando da Cruz Vasconcellos and Dr. Tanya Hutter, both who join us as Senior Teaching Fellows of the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Sensor Technologies and Applications (Sensor CDT). Fernando and Tanya will be helping with the course development, organising the student projects and mentoring.

          Fernando is a post-doctoral researcher from the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology here at the University of Cambridge where he works on Sensors for Healthcare Applications. He says, "I’m very excited to be part of the Sensor CDT and I'm looking forward to significantly contribute to the Sensor CDT through teaching, research and collaboration across the University, particularly in my areas of expertise of soft biological systems, functional materials and sensors."

     Fernando obtained a B.Sc. degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of California-Santa Barbara (UCSB) in 2000. From the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP), he received a M.Sc. (2007) and a Ph.D. degree, in a joint program with MIT, (2011) in Chemical Engineering. He served as Professor in the Department of Production Engineering of FACAMP, Campinas, São Paulo (2011-2012). Fernando has professional experience in the design, management and execution of engineering projects in multinational companies. He has broad international research and industry experience in the chemical engineering and biotechnology sectors, and he has been part of the founding team of two technology start-up companies in Brazil. Since 2013, Fernando has been a post-doctoral researcher and invited lecturer at the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology here at the University of Cambridge.  

     Tanya Hutter obtained a B.Sc. degree in Chemical Engineering from the Ben-Gurion University in 2007. She received a M.Sc. in Materials Science and Engineering from Tel-Aviv University in 2009. In 2013, she obtained a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from Trinity College and the Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge. Between 2013 and 2014, she held a University of Cambridge-Wellcome Trust Senior Internship for Interdisciplinary Research. Tanya has experience in the theoretical and experimental design and development of various sensing platforms. She has been involved with CamBridgeSens since 2009, when she was a 1st year PhD student in Cambridge. Her team won the CamBridgeSens Sensor Competition to develop an integrated optical waveguide sensor. Tanya is also a co-founder of a chemical sensor startup in Cambridge.

     She says, "I have been involved in sensor research for several years now, and the multidisciplinary nature of this area makes it difficult to be placed in a single Department. I hope the Sensor CDT will bridge those gaps across various Departments and enable truly interdisciplinary research. I am very excited to see the CamBridgeSens network grow into the Sensor CDT programme, and I am thrilled to be part of the team."

Sensor CDT at the Cambridge Science Festival 2016

last modified May 26, 2016 09:47 AM
Is there enough oxygen in my blood?

The Sensor CDT took part in the annual Cambridge Science Festival.

A busy weekend in March 2016 saw around 2000 visitors coming to the Plant and Life Sciences Marquee where staff and students from the Sensor CDT demonstrated their prototype pulse oximeter. The general public, from school children to retired engineers, got an insight into how a sensor works, that is used routinely in clinical environments and in popular fitness monitoring devices.

blood oxygen poster

The Sensor CDT exhibit was part of the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology stand, which showcased the wide range of life science research carried out within the department, from spores to nanoparticles, advanced microscopy and health care devices.


oliver chiara setting up


nanoparticle_drawing young scientist


Watch the video below to see some of the highlights from the Science Festival:


Sensor CDT at the Cambridge Science Festival 2017

last modified Mar 21, 2017 12:34 AM
A team of Sensor CDT students demonstrated their research projects at the Cambridge Science Festival

A student team from the 2016 MRes cohort presented their pulse oximeter which they built during their Guided Sensor Project in December.

pulse_oximeter_1 pulse_oximeter_2

Carolina Orozco, Elise Siouve, Francesco Tonolini and Sammy Mahdi presented their Arduino based pulse oximeter to the general public in the Life Sciences Marquee on the first Saturday of the 2017 Science Festival.

Children were fascinated by a pulsing heart appearing on the computer screen as they put their fingers on an LED and the reflected light was detected with a photodiode.

Adults were interested to learn how the setup worked and surprised about how easy it seems to build a sensor that can measure pulse rate, blood oxygen level and temperature with a few electronics parts and an Arduino microcontroller.

As Carolina, Elise, Francesco and Sammy can testify, designing and building a sensor is not as easy as one might think.

Oliver Vanderpoorten, currently in his first year of PhD, demonstrated different microscopy techniques, including a lens-free setup to look at living mirco organisms in water droplets and an inverted microscope to study brain cells.



Sensor CDT mini-research projects featured in CEB Focus

last modified May 18, 2016 02:08 PM

The second student cohort at the Sensor CDT featured in a recent article in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology’s newsletter, CEB Focus (Issue 18, May 2016). Written by our graduate student, Dimitrios Simatos, the piece highlights the diverse range of sensor related mini-research projects undertaken by the CDT students during the MRes year.  

Each mini-project bridges across two University departments, providing the students with an exclusive insight into the work being carried out in the research laboratories in Cambridge, before deciding on a path for their own PhD projects.

Read the full article here.

Sensor CDT receives EPSRC funding to build the CDT in Sensor Technologies for a Healthy and Sustainable Future

last modified Feb 20, 2019 03:33 PM

We are pleased to announce the establishment of the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Sensor Technologies and Applications for a Healthy and Sustainable Future at the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology. The venture will provide PhD training for at least 50 PhD students between 2019 and 2027.

The programme builds on the current CDT in Sensor Technologies but ventures in new directions to address sustainable development goals and provide training in responsible leadership and entrepreneurship. The CDT learning experience is strongly team-focused and the course includes a dedicated MRes (Masters of Research), with continued training provided through the entire PhD phase.

A large number of companies from all sectors of the UK economy participate in the programme and start-ups and SMEs will particularly benefit from a staged engagement programme, which permits the exploration of ideas in mini-research projects, a leveraged studentship funding model, and from access to excellent students, academics, and infrastructure.

Professor Clemens Kaminski, Director of the CDT, says “I am delighted about this outcome and would like to thank my team for their hard work and outstanding efforts to make this happen. It is truly exciting to think about what the students are able to achieve together in the programme – the Team Challenge is just one example.”

The most recent Team Challenge of the current CDT was used as a pilot study for the ideas proposed for the new programme in responsible innovation. Students engaged the public in the CamBike Sensor project to develop a citizen enabled air quality monitoring network. The students were awarded a prize from the Global Challenges Research Fund and are now taking their technology to citizens in Argentina, Africa, and India.

Dr Beatrix Schlarb-Ridley, Director of Innovation and Impact at the British Antarctic Survey, says “Sensor innovation is a powerful enabler to understanding how our environment is changing, and how we can adapt to this change. It underpins the delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals. I look forward to the vibrant contributions the students will make to address global challenges through sensing.”

The academic leads on the programme are Dr Róisín Owens, Professor Axel Zeitler, and Professor Clemens Kaminski. The management group includes Dr Oliver Hadeler (teaching), Dr Donata Iandolo (industry) and Karen Scrivener (operations). Industrial partners include MedImmune Ltd, Fluidic Analytics Ltd, Alphasense Ltd, British Antarctic Survey, ioLight, Nokia Bell Labs, Zimmer & Peacock Ltd, Panaxium SAS, Anglian Water, TeraView Ltd, Centre for Digital Built Britain, Cambridge Enterprise Ltd, Cambridge Display Technology Ltd, Smart Cambridge, Arm Ltd, National Physical Laboratory, Cartezia, Synoptics Ltd, Silicon Microgravity Ltd, Galvani Bioelectronics, Victoria & Albert Museum, Marks & Clerk LLP, Magna International Inc, Kirkstall Ltd, Iconal Technology Ltd, Blue Bear Systems Research, and the Hitachi Cambridge Laboratory.

More information is available here. 

Sensor CDT Student awarded a £15,000 ChAMP and WAFT Collaboration Fund

last modified May 22, 2018 11:50 AM
Farah Alimagham, a Sensor CDT talented student, has been awarded a collaborative grant to work with the CDT in Metamaterials (Engineering at the University of Exeter).

The successful proposal has been brought together by teams from Physical Chemistry at the University of Cambridge and Engineering at the University of Exeter.

They were awarded £15,000 to investigate chemical sensing based on phase-change IR metamaterials devices. This project will run from June 2018 to September 2018 and will be an excellent opportunity to collaborate with colleagues from the University of Exeter and other EPSRC CDTs.

Further details on


Sensor CDT Student creates carbon-based structure with multi-level hierarchy in a simple way

last modified May 15, 2018 01:54 PM

Sensor CDT student, Tiesheng Wang (王铁胜), found a simple way to transform metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) to carbon-base structures with ordered multilevel hierarchy, termed as “nano-diatom” (named for the morphological similarities with the naturally existing diatomaceous species). The metamorphosis is enabled by adding salts (metal-containing compounds) into the MOF followed by a high-temperature carbonisation process.

Tiesheng is a PhD candidate supervised by Dr Stoyan Smoukov and Dr R Vasant Kumar, and working closely with Professor Anthony Cheetham. Together with Dr Hyun-Kyung Kim, they have demonstrated one of the nano-diatoms as a superior carbon-based anode material for fast-charging lithium-ion battery. They published their work in JACS (Journal of the American Chemical Society) recently:

In the paper, Tiesheng and his collaborators from University of Cambridge, Queen Mary University of London and Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research proved that the transformation can be controlled by the initial chemical composition (i.e. MOF and metal-containing compound used). They also realized that the discovery can be applied as a working strategy for functionalizing the carbon not only for energy storage but also for catalysis and chemical sensing. Tiesheng, Stoyan and Hyun-Kyung have filed a relevant patent.

Since there are thousands of MOF and metal-containing compounds available, the discovery and its following work on understanding the formation mechanisms will enable the design of future carbon-based functional materials. The work is highlighted in the following press release:

Bottom-up Formation of Carbon-Based Structures with Multilevel Hierarchy from MOF−Guest Polyhedra’. Tiesheng Wang, Hyun-Kyung Kim, Yingjun Liu, Weiwei Li, James T Griffiths, Yue Wu, Sourav Laha, Kara D Fong, Filip Podjaski, Chao Yun, R Vasant Kumar, Bettina V Lotsch, Anthony K Cheetham and Stoyan K Smoukov*. Journal of the American Chemical Society, ASAP



Sensor CDT student finds a way to design a “ship” inside the nano-sized bottle

last modified Mar 28, 2019 11:03 AM
Sensor CDT student finds a way to design a “ship” inside the nano-sized bottle

Using Pourbaix diagrams, researchers can place a guest material inside nano-sized pores of a host material like a ship in a bottle.

Tiesheng Wang from the 2014 cohort and his collaborators have figured out a generic way to confine materials inside a space with a typical dimension of 1-to-2 nm, a bit like building a ship inside a bottle. 

They have established a rational approach, called Pourbaix Enabled Guest Synthesis (PEGS), to identify the boundary conditions for a desired ship-in-a-bottle synthesis to form guest materials inside nanopores. The work is published in Nature Communications. As an experimental demonstration, Tiesheng successfully placed RuO2 inside the nano-cavity of a metal-organic framework (MOF), MOF-808-P. Tiesheng and his collaborators also found a significantly weaker CO adsorption on RuO2 when RuO2 is inside MOF’s cavity instead of on silica surface like the conventional RuO2-based catalyst. By preventing strong CO adsorption at low temperatures they have developed a highly active and stable catalyst for CO oxidation close to room temperature. 

In the press release, Tiesheng is quoted as saying "The upcoming impact can be enormous. Since quantum theory describes nature at atomic-to-subatomic scales, the work that helps to achieve new confined states at small scales may contribute to the foundation to explore the quantum world experimentally."

Tiesheng recently moved to Australia where he works as a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the School of Chemistry, of the University of Sydney. He is also the Warden of the Molecular Materials Laboratory.

Sensor CDT Student first publication with her new team

last modified May 22, 2018 03:19 PM
Congratulation to Johanna Kölbel, Sensor CDT MRes student, on the publication of her first paper with the Terahertz Applications Group.

Paper entitled: "Predicting the Structures and Associated Phase Transitions Mechanisms in Disordered Crystals via a Combination of Experimental and Theoretical Methods", authored by Michael T Ruggiero,  Johanna Kölbel,  Qi Li  and  J. Axel Zeitler.

Faraday Discuss., 2018, DOI: 10.1039/C8FD00042E.!divAbstract

Sensor CDT Student Team Challenge 2018

last modified Jul 25, 2018 12:30 PM
Sensor CDT Student Team Challenge 2018

Peter Pedersen and Francesca van Tartwijk at Cambridge105

The Sensor CDT Team Challenge is well underway and has gone live on the radio.  Check out to hear all about what we're doing. 

Sensor CDT student Tiesheng Wang weaves new material for energy storage

last modified Mar 22, 2018 03:45 PM
Sensor CDT student Tiesheng Wang and his supervisor Stoyan Smoukov have developed a new supercapacitor made from a "candy cane" like flexible polymer material composite. Its flexibility and higher charge holding properties could enable new sensor applications, such as implantable sensors.

t wang candy cane

Tiesheng Wang, a final year PhD student of the Sensor CDT, has developed a new flexible polymer material which moves electrical energy storage to new heights.

He weaved together a conducting polymer with an ion-storage polymer to form a new supercapacitor material with higher charge density than conventional polymer materials. In addition the material is flexible, allowing it to be incorporated into wearable sensors.

Tiesheng presented this work at the 255th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemistry Society (ACS) in New Orleans in March 2018. Read the full ACS press release here.

His ground breaking research captured the scientific audience at a press conference held at the meeting.

t wang press conference


Sensor CDT Student Tiesheng Wang wins one of the 2018 CSAR PhD Student Awards

last modified Apr 06, 2018 02:01 PM
The Cambridge Society for the Application of Research (CSAR) recently announced the names of the 10 PhD students from the University of Cambridge who have received the 2018 CSAR PhD Student Awards for Applied Research.

Tiesheng Wang from the EPSRC sensor CDT is one of the award winners. 

His work on functional materials with interpenetrating structures was also recently featured in the recent American Chemical Society National Conference in New Orleans as both press release ( ) and press conference interview ( 

The awards were presented at a ceremony earlier this week, which was jointly hosted by Professor Stephen Toope, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, Professor Andrew Neely, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Enterprise and Business Relations at the University of Cambridge and Professor Sir Mike Gregory, President of CSAR.

You can find more information about the awards made this year by visiting the CSAR website

Sensor CDT Students win Deeptech Founders Prizes

last modified Jun 28, 2019 10:34 AM

Congratulations to Sensor CDT MRes students Theo Baissas and Ben Woodington who won two prizes at the MIT Hacking Medicine Grand Hack in Paris.  They were awarded second place within the Mental Health and Neurology section, and the Deeptech Founders prize for their in-ear EEG app.

The MIT Hacking Medicine Grand Hack was the first outside of the United States. The weekend was dedicated to brainstorming and building innovative solutions with hundreds of like-minded engineers, clinicians, designers, developers and business people. 

Sensor CDT students at Creativity Sandpit with Imperial and Warwick CDTs

last modified May 22, 2018 02:56 PM
A Creativity Sandpit took place on 15-17 May 2018 at Easthamstead Park near Bracknell in a big old mansion and about 30 brilliant minds working together. It was organised by the High Performance Embedded and Distributed Systems (HiPEDS) CDT at Imperial College. In addition to HiPEDS and Sensor CDT, the Warwick Urban Science CDT joined in as well.
Sensor CDT students at Creativity Sandpit with Imperial and Warwick CDTs

Farah and her team at the Sandpit

Farah Alimagham and Bogdan Spiridon, both from Sensor CDT 2015 cohort, took part in the Creativity Sandpit at Easthamstead Park. 

The main activities focused on "creating a solution to an industry problem".  The Greater London Authority, the Post Office and ARUP were the industry stakeholders.

Both Sensor CDT students prized the experience highly. Farah found it extremely engaging experience, working together with industry representatives and other PhD students to come up with feasible solutions to real-world challenges mainly involving managing and making sense of data and information.  Bogdan highlighted the opportunity to work together with people of varied backgrounds (high-performance computing, urban science and sensors) around real-world challenges. It was an excellent opportunity to network as well.


Bogdan and his team at the Sandpit

Brain Storm

IMG 2959 mod

Sensor CDT students publish research from the Sensor Team Challenge

last modified Jun 20, 2016 12:18 PM
A research paper on assisted living technology, authored by the first cohort of Sensor CDT students, has been published in the Royal Society's Interface Focus journal.

The first cohort at the Sensor CDT has just published the results from the Sensor Team Challenge - a 12-week project carried out during the MRes year. The research article, “Development of an open technology sensor suite for assisted living: a student-led research project”, features in the theme issue “Sensors in technology and nature” in the Royal Society’s Interface Focus journal.

With rapidly ageing populations placing increasing pressure on health services in the UK and many other countries, there is increasing demand for assisted living technologies to enable older people to live independently and safely in their own homes for longer.

But as team member Oliver Bonner, an electronics engineer, explains: “Existing monitoring devices are often too bulky, only perform one function and can’t be integrated because manufacturers don’t want their products used alongside those of rival brands. What we’ve done is develop an open platform so that anyone who invents an ingenious assistive device can bring that into the system and enhance what it can do for older people.”

The interdisciplinary team – comprising engineers, chemists, biochemists, materials scientists and physicists – designed and incorporated five assistive devices into their sensor suite: a door sensor, power monitor, fall detector, general in-house sensor unit, and an on-person location-aware communications device. The group improved on existing devices, in part, by taking advantage of recent developments in 3D printing, printed circuit board production and electronics prototyping.

Josephine Hughes, who studied engineering as an undergraduate at Cambridge and is now pursuing a PhD in robotics, said: “We’ve created a non-intrusive safety net that can be used to help older people live independently in their own homes for as long as possible while also connecting them with their friends and family. We had to ensure that older people would accept the system.”

To protect the privacy of older people, the in-house system uses motion and audio detectors to establish presence but no cameras or sound recording devices. Towards the end of the project, the team installed their sensor suite in the home of team member, Philip Mair, a biochemist. With kind permission from Mair’s flatmates, the group tested the system for two weeks and, to their relief, discovered that it was fully operational.

Extensive further testing would be required before the system could be commercialised but it has already generated expressions of interest from potential investors and manufacturers.

Manton et al. "Development of an open technology sensor suite for assisted living: a student-led research project." Interface Focus 2016 6 20160018; DOI: 10. 1098/rsfs.2016.0018

Adapted from a press release by the University of Cambridge. The full story can be viewed here.

Sensor CDT Team Challenge in the Media

last modified Aug 14, 2019 12:43 PM
Sensor CDT Team Challenge in the Media

Solicamb Team Challenge in the media

As well as running very successful Summer School events and a mini Make-a-thon at Cambridge MakeSpace, the Sensor CDT 2018 student cohort have been hard at work with media coverage for their Solicamb project.

They recently saw the release of a double-page spread in The Independent, a feature on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, Cambridge 105 Radio, and on That's TV Cambridge


Sensor Champions 2015

last modified Nov 17, 2015 11:52 AM
Congratulations to our Sensor Champions, Josie Hughes and Philip Mair.
Sensor Champions 2015

Sensor champions: Josie Hughes and Philip Mair

Many congratulations to our 2015 Sensor Champions, Josephine Hughes and Philip Mair.  Both students produced stellar work for both the practical and research components of the programme in their MRes year and fully embraced the interdisciplinary nature of the Sensor CDT course. 

Josie and Philip demonstrated a strong aptitude to learning new skills outside of their respective areas of expertise.  Philip, coming from a background in biology, used his skills and interests to venture into Machine Learning and soldering surface mount electronic components.  Josie shared her engineering undergraduate knowledge with the group when it came to programme Arduino micro controllers and designing electronic circuits.

Having immersed themselves in the theoretical and practical sensor-related aspects of engineering, physics, biology and chemistry, they are entering the start of their PhD research with an excellent grounding in the field of Sensor Technologies and Applications.

Josie is now conducting her PhD research in the Machine Intelligence Research Group, headed by Dr. Fumiya Iida, Department of Engineering, on the subject of Adaptive tactile sensing for robotics based on thermoplastics.

Philip is undertaking his PhD research in the Hollfelder Group, Department of Biochemistry.   His research is focused on the Ultrahigh throughput screening of metagenomic libraries

Sensor Team Challenge 2016

last modified May 17, 2016 04:35 PM
The Sensor Team Challenge, the final project for the MRes students at the Sensor CDT, is underway. The 2016 challenge is to develop an Optical Projection Tomography system.
Sensor Team Challenge 2016

Team Challenge brainstorm

The second cohort of Sensor CDT students has been set the challenge of developing a 3D Optical Projection Tomography (OPT) system to image biological samples.

This 15 week project is interdisciplinary in nature and will draw on the collective, broad knowledge base of the student cohort whose backgrounds cover the natural sciences and engineering disciplines. Together they will design and implement a research standard OPT system to address scientific questions in the areas of biology, physiology and medicine.

The students will be supported by a diverse group of mentors from industry and academia, who will provide practical guidance on technical issues and project management. But ultimately the direction and realisation of the project will be in the hands of the students.

Sensor Team Challenge 2017 has started

last modified Jun 20, 2018 04:39 PM
By combining their scientific and managerial skills, the third cohort of Sensor CDT students will develop low-cost and open-source cell-free molecular diagnostics for biological and chemical sensor applications.

Low-cost, fast and reliable virus and chemical detection

The third student cohort has started its team challenge on cell-free molecular diagnostics tests for chemical or biological sensor applications.

well testing

In response to a growing need for enhanced capabilities in medical and environmental diagnostics the students' task is to develop low-cost open-source sensors to detect virus structures or polluting chemicals, such as arsenic, in an easy to use and rapid way.

Three months and twelve students

During this three months project the twelve students will use their engineering, physics, biology and chemistry skills as well as developing their project and people management skills.

Potential technology

The sensors will use synthetic biology to engineer safe cell-free gene networks which can detect specific analytes and produce outputs such as a colour change.


dengue sample        

colour change

Several sensor platforms are possible, inlcuding paper based microfluidics. A key challenge will be the design of quantitative sensors. Here the student cohort will need to combine its know-how across the physical and biological sciences.

Scientific support and impact

The team challenge will run until middle of August, with plenty of opportunity for the students to interact with experts in the field from academia and industry as well as with students from the previous Sensor CDT cohorts working on relevant PhD projects and a group of undergraduate engineering students. Key guidance and advise will be provided by OpenDiagnostics, a student-led team which has carried out some pioneering work in this area.


At the kick-off workshop the Sensor CDT students collectively brainstormed a variety of possible avenues to approach this challenge.

Previous team challenges on assisted living for the elderly and a 3d optical imaging system have been highly successful.

Read more here.

Sensor Team Challenge on Assisted Living

last modified May 13, 2015 01:01 PM
The Sensor CDT students are starting their final MRes project, the Sensor Team Challenge. This year's topic is "Assisted Living".

The first cohort of Sensor CDT students is just starting its Sensor Team Challenge on Assisted living for the elderly. The students will develop a network of sensors helping to assist people in their homes to live a more independent life. After receiving a short briefing document the students will shape and manage the project mainly by themselves. External technical advisors and mentors will support the students with practical expertise and transferable skills, such as programme management.

The Sensor Team Challenge is the last of a series of projects carried out by the Sensor CDT students during the MRes phase. It brings together all ten students in the cohort to collectively work on a cross-disciplinary project which is of general interest to research and industry.

Sensor CDT away day

last modified Jun 28, 2017 05:31 PM
Students from all three Sensor CDT cohorts traveled to Marston Vale to meet up with the MAS CDT for a joint away day aiming to solve research problems together.

Students from the Sensor CDT and the Molecular Analytical Science CDT met at the Marston Vale Forest Centre about half way between Cambridge and Warwick for a packed day of academic and fun activities.

Problem solving - idea pitching

Mixed teams of students from the Sensor CDT and the Molecular Analytical Science CDT combined their diverse research experiences and skills to propose new products or solutions which could overcome a scientific or technical challenge in one of the team members' PhD project.



Ideas from the students ranged from capacitive sensors to detect crystallization and clogging in pipes to using scanning probe microscopy and NMR to investigate the shapes of active sites in antibodies.

It was impressive to see the students go from explaining their research to one another at the start  to forming efficient teams and presenting a new product in one day. During this exercise the students made excellent use of their knowledge in different science and engineering backgrounds and research areas.

Alongside the exercise students soaked up ideas to advance their individual projects.

Team building

The away day helped to create an expanded network of young scientists from both CDTs, which have complementary and partially overlapping themes: molecular analytical science is not possible without sensors while the develop of new sensors often relies on an understanding at the molecular level.

To develop their leadership and problem solving skills the student teams took part in team building challenges, including building a sculpture using a limited set of information and guiding blindfolded colleagues to erect a tent.



The day has allowed the students to connect across CDTs and cohorts and everybody is looking forward to future events between the Sensor CDT and the Molecular Analytical Science CDT.

More images from the day

01_brain_storming 03_idea_development
05_problem_solving 06_product_development
07_product_pitch 09_egg_launcher
10_blind_folded_task 11_waste_disposal
14_completed_task 15_team_work

Sensors Day 2015

last modified Oct 07, 2015 11:32 AM
We will showcase innovative and exciting sensor technologies and applications at the international Sensors Day 2015. This one-day conference will be held on 16 October 2015 at Murray Edwards College. The first cohort of Sensor CDT students will demonstrate their comprehensive set of sensors for assisted living developed during their Sensor Team Challenge. More details will be published soon on this website.

The Sensors Day conference will bring together researchers from Cambridge, other international universities and industry to showcase exciting advances in sensor technologies and applications and related disciplines, including robotics and microfluidics.

Confirmed speakers include Prof Jeremy Baumberg, Cambridge, Luke Lee, Berkeley and Andrew de Mello, ETHZ.

This one day conference will be held on

Friday 16 October 2015
Murray Edwards College

The first cohort of Sensor CDT students will present and demonstrate their impressive intelligent sensor network for assisted living, which they developed during their three months Sensor Team Challenge.

Further information, including the full list of speakers will be announced shortly.

Sensors Day 2016

last modified Oct 20, 2016 03:16 PM
From neurons to nanomaterials, flying particles to acoustic thermometry...

The second Sensors Day conference took place at Churchill College in Cambridge on 14 October 2016. Hosted by the Sensor CDT, the event brought an eclectic mix of talks to a broad audience from academia and industry. From sensing in the extreme environment of Erebus volcano to the bioimaging of an embryo, the day celebrated the breadth and diversity of sensor research, applications and technologies. 

The Sensor CDT students presented the Team Challenge on 3D Optical Projection Tomography. This was a 12-week project carried out in the MRes year at the CDT. Delegates were able to see the system developed to image biological samples during the intervals.

The poster session also captured the wealth of exciting research emerging from the sensor field. Poster presenters came from within the University of Cambridge, Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs), and UK and European establishments. Among the contributors were the Sensor CDT students from the first cohort who are now entering the second year of the PhD phase.

The Best Poster prize was awarded to Lisa-Maria Needham for her poster entitled: “FRET-enhanced photo-modulatable fluorophore for improved super-resolution microscopy and single-molecule tracking studies”, and second place went to Jana Weber, “Predicting polymer chain growth Raman vibrations”.

Sensors Day 2016 was sponsored by Hamamatsu, NPL, the Royal Society Publishing and Andor. 


Sensors Day 2017 will take place on Friday, 13 October 2017.

Sensors Day 2017

last modified Nov 13, 2017 12:35 PM
Molecular sensors, sensing in the Antarctic, robotics...

The third Sensors Day conference took place at Robinson College in Cambridge on 20 October 2017.

As always, this conference brought together speakers from a range of sensing disciplines (see full programme here). Allard Mosk, Marina Kuimova, Tuomas Knowles and Ljiljana Fruk presented captivating talks on

  • optical spectroscopy at the nanoscale to further the understanding of 3D materials
  • the use of molecular rotors to image viscosity inside lipid layers, cells and aerosols
  • employing microfluidics and sensors to understand protein misfolding
  • using bio-nano composite materials for drug delivery, sensors
a_mosk m_kuimova
t_knowles l_fruk

Robotics and the "internet of everything" were covered in two fascinating talks by Hatice Gunes and Ozgur Akan.

h gunes AUG 7276

Julie MacPherson's work on diamond electrodes for electrochemical measurements lead seamlessly into the Team Challenge presentation of the Sensor CDT students. They had developed a quantitative arsenic sensor based on cell-free biology and an electrochemical readout.

AUG 7246 mod team challenge presentation

The British Antarctic Survey presented a sweeping overview of sensor technology employed in harsh environments to monitor environmental changes.

b schlarb ridley a flemming


Sensors Day 2017 was sponsored by Cambridge University Press, Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, Zimmer & Peacock, NPL, OpenIO Labs, Royal Society and Alphasense.

Sensors Day 2018

last modified Oct 23, 2018 06:21 PM

The Sensor CDT hosted another successful Sensors Day conference. Now in its fourth year, 170 delegates attended the conference on 19 October 2018 in Fitzwilliam College, representing UK universities from around the country, including Bristol, Glasgow, UCL, Imperial College, Middlesex, Newcastle and industry_sponsorOxford. International students and researchers from Nuremberg, Copenhagen, Eindhoven, Laval and Beijing enriched the scientific mix. A number of national and international companies attended the conference to find out about sensor related research in Cambridge with the aim of deepening collaborations across a wide range of sensor topics, such as materials, security, automotive, environmental sensing, biosensors and applications in the pharmaceutical industry.

Sensors Day kicked off with a keynote presentation by Hermann Hauser on Intelligent Machines. Hermann’s involvement in a number of large and highly successful Cambridge spin-outs in the area of computing and technology over the past 30 years enabled him to provide an insightful comparison between the human brain and the abilities of artificial intelligence now and in the future. This is a topic which is at the heart of many Sensor CDT students, who were impressed by the potential of sensing and AI.

A key thread weaving through several talks was the use of sensory data to make informed decisions, whether in the areas of agriculture, food production, smart civil infrastructure or the environment. Iain Williams from Defra described how the vast and open data sets in agriculture and fisheries can help improve the environment, while Jennifer Schooling from the Cambridge Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction looked at how a more intelligent use of data can increase the safe lifespan of our, sometimes more than 100 years old, bridges and tunnels. David Coomes from the Department of Plant Sciences showed how the combination of new and improved sensor technologies help monitoring and understanding biogeochemical processes and biodiversity at different scales.

madeline_lancasterMadeline Lancaster from the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge continued the biological theme. Her talk described how cerebral organoids, or “mini brains”, can be used to study human brain development. Studying these processes relies on the sophisticated imaging techniques available across Cambridge.

The Internet of Things, or as the sensor community prefers to call it, the oliver_v_posterInternet of Sensors, was the backdrop to talks by Alan Blackwell and Cecilia Mascolo, both from the Department of Computer Science, and Luca Aiello from Nokia. The interaction between sensors and us, the users, is fundamental to the Internet of Sensors. Alan described how we use sensors in different contexts and how our interaction with them varies as a result. Cecilia and Luca highlighted new ways of using mobile and wearable technology to sense the environment around us with the aim of increasing our personal wellbeing as well as that of a city as a whole. E.g. measuring smell across a city provides urban citizens with a new perspective about the city they live in; wearable technology allows early detection of dementia.

Every year Sensors Day provides a platform for the MRes students of the Sensor CDT to present their team project, which they tackled over the summer. This year, the ten students devised a mobile sensor network which enables citizen to measure air quality in the form of particulatebikesensor_team matter concentration. Not only did the students developed the sensor platform, they also got the public involved in building and using the sensors. They ran a makeathon, taught children how to build sensors and distributed their sensors to more than 50 volunteers. Air quality data was collected in Cambridge and other European cities over the summer, leading to a data set of more than 2million data points which allows to study spatial and temporal changes of air quality across cities.

Sensors Day finished with a dinner at Murray Edwards College attended by the new and previous Sensor CDT MRes student cohorts, supervisors and industrial partners. sensors_day_dinnerThis year’s Sensor Champions were announced at the dinner. Lorena Gordillo Dagallier and Francesca van Tartwijk won this year’s prize for their exceptional contributions throughout the MRes year. Their mini projects on printed paper based diagnostics and the study of Xenopus laevis retinal ganglion cells using single molecule imaging led to impressive initial results. Lorena and Francesca will continue working on these topics with their CEB supervisors Lisa Hall and Clemens Kaminski. During the team challenge Francesca and Lorena were driving forces behind the sensor development and outreach activities. Both did extremely well too in the written examinations across different scientific disciplines which underpin sensor technologies.


Sensors Day Poster Prizes - Sponsored by Magna

last modified Oct 25, 2018 02:39 PM

Congratulations go to Tiesheng Wang (Sensor CDT) and to Philipp Koehler (Nano DTC, Department of Physics and Department of Chemistry) who won the prizes for the Sensors Day Poster Competition.  Tiesheng won first prize of £250 and Philipp the second prize of £100.  Our thanks go to Magna for sponsoring the prizes.

Stars of TV - Sensor CDT Student Team Challenge 2018

last modified Jul 25, 2018 12:48 PM

Our MRes students were recently interviewed by That's Cambridge TV.  Take a look at the interview on YouTube.

We are working on the CamBike Makeathon.  For more information on the goal of the Makeathon see  If's fun and free to sign up.  What you are waiting for?

This week, the CamBike Team has kept busy both by experimenting with some cool prototypes and by looking towards the future. The students have submitted proposals for the research they wish to undertake during their three-year PhD, with subjects ranging from single proteins to whole solar systems. Meanwhile, work has continued to get a set of prototypes ready for data collection, and more!


Studentship available: NanoMOF Supramolecular Systems for Drug Delivery

last modified Mar 10, 2016 04:56 PM

We are recruiting for a fully funded 1+3 years MRes + PhD studentship, in collaboration with MedImmune, starting in October 2016.  For details of the project please go to

Please note that this studentship is only open to UK and EU nationals.

The deadline for applications is Friday, 25 March 2016.

Studentship available: Understanding of the impact of manufacturing processes on the physical and chemical stability of synthetic peptides

last modified Feb 03, 2017 01:59 PM

We are recruiting for a fully funded 1+3 years MRes + PhD studentship, in collaboration with MedImmune, starting in October 2017. Further details can be found here.

The deadline for applications is Monday, 6 March 2017.

Studentship available: Using Terahertz Spectroscopy to Explore the Properties of Biopharmaceutical Formulations for Solid-State Processing

last modified Jan 24, 2017 11:47 AM

We are recruiting for a fully funded 1+3 years MRes + PhD studentship, in collaboration with MedImmune, starting in October 2017.  Details of the project and how to apply can be found here.

The deadline for applications is Tuesday, 28 February 2017.

Supercontinuum in Microscopy and Biological Imaging Applications Workshop, November 2018

last modified Aug 23, 2018 11:57 AM

We will be hosting a 'Supercontinuum in Microscopy and Biological Imaging Applications Workshop' from 26-28 November 2018 inclusive.  The purpose of the workshop is to educate SUPUVIR students in the theory and practice of the principles and use of advanced microscopy techniques. The workshop will consist of lectures, that go through the optical physics of microscopic imaging all the way to application, including sample preparation and data processing. A special focus is on the opportunities and uses for supercontinuum laser sources for biophotonics research. In addition to the technical programme, there will be transferable skills training such as public engagement and presentation skills training. 

For further information visit our website.

Teaching sensing to undergraduate engineers

last modified Mar 15, 2016 02:40 PM
Josie Hughes, 1st year Sensor CDT PhD student, taught a group of Cambridge undergraduate engineers the basics of interfacing sensors with Arduino microcontrollers as part of a project to introduce students to coding and electronics.

Undergraduate engineering students at Murray Edwards College enjoyed an afternoon at the end of term diving into programming Arduino microcontrollers and using their electronics skills to build a sound level meter and temperature sensor.

Josie Hughes teaching undergraduate engineers how to interface a senors with an Arduino microcontroller

The event brought together 17 female Murray Edwards College undergraduate engineers from all four years of the Cambridge engineering degree. Thomas Quinn, a  3rd year undergraduate student at Loughborough University and Josie Hughes, a 1st year Sensor CDT student and supervisors for electrical engineering, delivered a course packed with fun and serious engineering. At the end of the afternoon the students were able to monitor and log their room temperature with an Arduino and left inspired to further explore the capabilities of microcontrollers.


multicolour LEDs Group of undergraduate engineers learning about Arduinos and sensorsThe students only needed to bring their laptops and could keep their Arduinos after the event. Multicolour LED lights indicating sound level (left).

Visiting Professorial Fellow Denise Morrey and Oliver Hadeler, Director of Studies in Engineering at Murray Edwards College and Programme Manager of the Sensor CDT agreed that a basic knowledge of programming is an essential part of an engineer's education. Together with Alice Cicirello, Bye-Fellow at Murray Edwards College and Research Scientist at Schlumberger Research, they devised a course which was educational, practical and fun.

The event was supported by Murray Edwards College, Oliver Hadeler and Lee Smith, ARM Fellow.


Team Challenge 2017 outomes

last modified Jul 23, 2018 10:15 AM
2017 student cohort successfully concludes team challenge

The 2017 student cohort has presented the outcomes from this year's team challenge: a quantitative sensor for measuring arsenic concentration in drinking water.

fluorescence_in_cells electrodes_used

 The team of 13 students combined synthetic biology, engineering and chemistry to demonstrate an easy to use sensor which can provide accurate readings in minutes on-site by untrained users and without dangerous chemicals.

The project was sponsored by

neb_officialhenkelAppliedInkSolutions_logo35532.jpgopen plant fund



Team project on optical projection tomography completed

last modified Jun 20, 2018 03:38 PM
Students successfully designed, built and tested an open source optical projection tomography system to image biological samples in 3D.


Completed: Sensor Team Challenge on Optical Projection Tomography

The second cohort of Sensor CDT students has finished their 15 week Sensor Team Challenge. This project is a major part of the MRes course, requiring team work, technical and personal skills and focus. It gives the students a glimpse of a real research environment and prepares them for their PhD project.

The brief

The brief was to build an open source optical projection tomography (OPT) setup for less than £5000. OPT allows to image transparent (biological) samples approximately the size of a sugar cube in 3D with a resolution of a few micrometers. A commercial system has been available a few years ago from Bioptonics and an open source setup has subsequently been published. Both system, however, are substantially more expensive than the one designed in this Team Challenge.


discussion low res

The setup was designed using an open source approach and avoiding proprietary hardware or software. After fully characterising their optical projection tomography setup the students were able to take high resolution images of transparent and fluorescent biological samples, such as C. elegans and organoids.

Future work

The students will present their work at the Sensors Day 2016 conference and then publish their results in the scientific literature. Design information will be published enabling interested researcher to build their own system.


The second student cohort has arrived

last modified Oct 08, 2015 02:29 PM
The second cohort of Sensor CDT students has arrived at the beginning of October to embark on their four year MRes + PhD programme with us.

A new cohort of 15 Sensor CDT students from the UK, EU and overseas has just started their MRes part of the CDT programme. They all have a common interest in sensing and will contribute their experiences and knowledge from a diverse background of undergraduate degrees in

  • physics,
  • bioengineering,
  • computer science,
  • biochemistry,
  • electrical engineering,
  • nano technology,
  • neuroscience.

While the majority of the new students still have a few months to decide on their PhD project, some students are already working towards their projects with our industrial partners, e.g. MedImmune, Cambridge Display Technology and Alphasense.

It will be an exciting time ahead for them, as they learn about different aspects of sensing, trying out new ways of research and finding out what they enjoy most in the area of sensing.

Themed Issue on Sensor Research

last modified Jun 17, 2016 01:46 PM
The Royal Society's Interface Focus Journal has published a special issue dedicated to the research topics covered at Sensors Day 2015

The theme of the issue is "Sensors in Nature and Technology" and gives a fascinating overview of how sensors in nature serve as inspiration for novel technologies, and also vice versa, how technology gives us better clues in understanding natural systems.

The issue reflects very much the diversity and exciting science encompassed by the Sensor CDT in Cambridge, and a number of contributions are from scientists active within the CDT, including our very own student cohort, who developed a wireless sensor suite for assisted living.

The issue is available online here:

Two studentships available

last modified May 05, 2017 12:13 PM

We are recruiting for two fully funded 1+3 years MRes +PhD studentships, in collaboration with MedImmune, starting in October 2017. Further details can be found here.

The deadline for applications is 31 May 2017.

Winner of CDT Twitter photo competition

last modified Mar 09, 2018 01:01 PM
Second prize in the #CDTinnovation category goes to Oliver Vanderpoorten
Winner of CDT Twitter photo competition

Dark worms. Credit: Oliver Vanderpoorten; Sample by: Tessa Sinnige

Congratulations to Oliver Vanderpoorten, from the 2015 cohort, for winning second prize in the CDT Twitter photo competition for his entry: Fluorescently labelled BAG neurons in C.Elegans - a simple model organism to study neurodegenerative diseases.

The Twitter photo competition was organised by the EPSRC CDT in Photonic Integration and Advanced Data Storage (PIADS) and EPSRC MRC CDT in Optical Medical Imaging (OPTIMA) to celebrate British Science Week 2017. There were three categories in the competition: #CDTinnovation, #CDTfunny and #CDTselfie. All the winning entries can be found here

Working with the Sensor CDT - AstraZeneca Project Beacon

last modified Apr 04, 2019 02:56 PM
Working with the Sensor CDT - AstraZeneca Project Beacon

Carolina Orozco

To nurture the development of future talent in the Cambridge ecosystem, AstraZeneca's Project Beacon is working in collaboration with the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Sensor Technologies to fund PhD projects on an annual basis.  Here, Carolina Orozco and colleagues tell us more about the project.