Skip to main content

Project GreenSense

For bio-analysis IMMS developed energy-efficient multi-parametric RFID microsensors and energy harvesting modules for operating autonomous sensors.

The aim of the project was to research and develop a modular technology platform for energy-autonomous smart sensor networks. The sensor networks are intended for use in a wide range of future scenarios, particularly in the monitoring and control of industrial production, transport and operational processes, so that those processes become more energy-efficient and less resource-intensive. The researchers developed hardware solutions for equipment that senses multiple parameters with embedded electronic signal processing, all at low cost and a high level of energy efficiency. Where access is difficult and the cost of the application must be kept to a minimum, energy harvesting solutions have been designed for operating energy-autonomous wireless sensors.

Cost- and energy-efficient hardware solutions for multi-parametric RFID microsensors

IMMS created a new digital CMOS temperature sensor for application in energy-autonomous integrated sensor systems. For this purpose, IMMS developed integrated microelectronic sensor components, manufactured cheaply with CMOS technology and optimal energy saving features, which will measure and provide electronic evaluation of various physical dimensions.

The new digital CMOS temperature sensor operates across a wide temperature range from –40°C to 125°C with high energy efficiency. The accuracy of the sensor is absolute and systematic between –0.1 °C and +0.5 °C. The temperature is measured and digitised using only 3.5 μW of electric power, which would facilitate the use of a sensor operable without interruption for at least a 10-year period from a mignon battery with a typical capacity of 1000 mAh.

On this basis, IMMS designed and created a passive 13.56-MHz RFID multisensor ASIC, which registers, wirelessly, any changes in the temperature and pH of aqueous solutions and can be used for biological analysis.

Micromechanical energy harvesting solutions for energy-autonomous operation of wireless sensors

Energy harvesting is a means whereby systems are supplied with energy from their environment. IMMS has developed micromechancial energy convertors that produce continuous output power at around 10 μW. Such a wattage is enough to supply, for instance, an integrated low-power CMOS temperature sensor which is energy-efficient and provides the signal data for RFID readout. The aim is to convert energy from very low-frequency vibrations such as are created by human movement.

The basic principle in the system is that of moveable electrostatic comb structures. The main challenge was to achieve low eigenfrequency, capacitance at the highest level possible and a marked change in capacitance when the structures vibrate, all on a tiny chip area.

To meet the challenge, IMMS has put into practice a new idea for MEMS harvesters and applied for a patent on the design and electronics, which rely on an out-of-plane oscillator. This name refers to the fact that the central proof mass is in oscillation outside the wafer plane.

The system architecture for the MEMS energy harvesting module received the Best Paper award at the Analog 2014 conference.

Energy-efficient sensor and radio module to set up energy-autonomous wireless sensor networks

Systems which have a power output of a few microwatts cannot be used for the acquisition and transmission of rapidly changing data and cannot be used to transmit over great distances. A sensor platform in such situations may well require power up to 10 mW.

With this in mind, IMMS has taken radio sensor nodes and optimised their energy properties so that they can be fully supplied from the environment. Furthermore, an energy simulator was created. It is a solution that constitutes an innovation in the service of circuit design for PCBs, permitting estimation of the electrical consumption of complex microcontroller-based systems before they are combined into the hardware. It also enables the designer to evaluate the energy aspects if peripherals are replaced and the interfaces change. Such details are essential to optimum design of energy-autonomous radio sensor nodes. The modular wireless sensor platform which has been created on this basis can be used for a range of sensors and energy can be harvested from the environment.

IMMS explored and constructed a variety of circuits for the connection of an electromagnetic harvester. The circuits were given the appropriate dimensions and optimised so as to obtain from the harvester the maximum energy possible. The optimised harvester circuits will function with alternating voltage at the relatively low effective figure of less than 100 mV.

CMOS-based sensor technology for the detection of biomarkers

IMMS has joined forces with IPHT Jena to develop the means whereby epizootic disease can be readily diagnosed. The idea is that a portable electronic device should enable samples from farm stock to be examined for pathogens automatically and rapidly. The affected animals can then be isolated and treated at an early stage, eliminating any risk to consumers, protecting the healthy animals and limiting financial loss.

The IMMS contribution follows the principles of a diagnostic procedure developed by Jenaer BioChip Initiative (JBCI, IPHT Jena) which has enabled foot and mouth disease (FMD) and other diseases to be detected from samples on glass chips. As the procedure relies on a simple and fast evaluation of the electrical conductivity and optical properties of samples, it can be incorporated into a compact on-site diagnostic system.

The IMMS contribution follows the principles of a diagnostic procedure developed by Jenaer BioChip Initiative (JBCI, IPHT Jena) which has enabled foot and mouth disease (FMD) and other diseases to be detected from samples on glass chips. As the procedure relies on a simple and fast evaluation of the electrical conductivity and optical properties of samples, it can be incorporated into a compact on-site diagnostic system.

The microelectronic approach offers additional measurement options as an alternative to the original glass plate-based platform. The aim is to use the new devices to keep track on the reactions taking place during diagnosis and to unify the three types of measurement on a single semiconductor biochip.

Acronym / Name:

GreenSense / Enabling technologies for resource- and energy-efficient smart sensor networks

Duration:2012 – 2014


Environmental monitoring and smart city applications|Automation technology and Industry 4.0|Life Sciences|Logistics| industrial process measuring technology| bio-analysis| building automation

Research field:Integrated sensor systems

Related content


Reinhard Jurisch, microsensys

”IMMS, being the sole research institute in Thüringen for microelectronic applications, has a central role for enterprises like ours in the region, acting as technology partner and coordinator for joint industrial research with public funding.“


Dr. Jörg Weber, Analytik Jena

”The work offers great potential for industrial applications, but also for growing markets in life science and medical technology, where we see a rising demand for intelligent microelectronic sensors.“
All publicationsGreenSense


EAS 2016

Work on Energy Harvesting at the 8th GMM Workshop „Energy autonomous sensors“


APCCAS2014, Okinawa, Japan

12th IEEE Asia Pacific Conference on Circuits and Systems (APCCAS 2014), 17. – 20.11.2014, Ishigaki Island, Okinawa, Japan



Halle 03 / G52, Gemeinschaftsstand DiagnostikNet-BB


14. GMM/ITG-Fachtagung Analog 2014

Vom 17.09.014 - 19.09.2014 findet die ANALOG 2014 in Hannover statt. Das IMMS wird mit 2 Beiträgen vertreten sein.

Press release,

Highly accurate and battery-free measurement via RFID

IMMS PhD candidate defends dissertation on precise passive RFID sensor technology

Press release,

IMMS receives iENA silver medal for energy-efficient solutions in integrated circuits

Approach to be used in energy-efficient biological analysis and Industry 4.0 applications.

Press release,

IMMS Receives Best Paper Award For Work On Energy-Efficient Sensor

The CMOS temperature sensor was presented at the APCCAS 2014 and is designed for energy-autonomous sensor systems with power supply from MEMS energy harvesting modules.

Press release,

IMMS receives Best Paper Award for MEMS Energy Harvesting Module

Ilmenau, 22.09.2014. On Friday at the ANALOG 2014 conference in Hannover, Germany, IMMS researchers received the Best Paper Award for their article and lecture "A System Architecture for an Integrated Electrostatic MEMS Energy Harvesting Module". This work on the development of miniaturized energy harvesters will establish innovative supply options for self-powered wireless microsensor networks.

The presented topic was part of the the GreenSense research project which started in 2012.…



Eric Schäfer, M. Sc.

Head of Microelectronics / Branch Office Erfurt

eric.schaefer(at) (0) 361 663 25 35

Eric Schäfer and his team research Integrated sensor systems, especially CMOS-based biosensors, ULP sensor systems and AI-based design and test automation. The results are being incorporated into research on the lead applications Sensor systems for in-vitro diagnostics and RFID sensor technology. It will assist you with services for the development of Integrated circuits and with IC design methods.


The GreenSense project has been funded by the “Land” of Thüringen (Ministry of Economics, Labour and Technology) and the European Social Fund (ESF) under the reference 2011 FGR 0121.

This might also be interesting for you

Core topic

CMOS-based biosensors

We are researching CMOS-integrated transducers and their interaction with biological receptors. They offer the potential for precise, digital and cost-effective point-of-care tests and allow properties to be recorded on a molecular scale.

Lead application

RFID sensor technology

We are researching energy-efficient solutions for RFID sensor technology in order to open up new applications and, for example, to make processes in industry more resource-efficient.

Lead application

Sensor systems for in-vitro diagnostics

Here we are developing sensor systems for in-vitro diagnostics that enable individual, decentralised health monitoring for all with electronic rapid tests.

Core topic

ULP sensor systems

We research and develop ultra-low-power (ULP) sensor systems that require very little power and have integrated energy management components. Our goal is to use them to open up new applications for the Internet of Things.