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This particle sensor exploits quantum effects for real-time process optimization

| By Gerald Ondrey

Last month at Achema 2022 (August 22–26; Frankfurt am Main, Germany), Q.ANT GmbH (Stuttgart, Germany; introduced what is said to be the world’s first industrial-grade quantum sensor (photo) for particle analysis. By the use of super-fast software, electronics and artificial intelligence (AI), the parameters are determined and classify the particles according to their shape.

According to the patent for the sensor, which was issued in June (U.S. 113 71 928), a diode laser is passed through a mode converter that generates a field distribution of the laser beam, where each position has a different combination of local intensity and polarization. This field distribution is focused to a plane through which the sample passes, and then enters a receiver that analyzes the polarization-dependent intensity of the field distribution after it passes through the sample. With this information, it is possible to determine the particle’s position, velocity acceleration and size. Together with AI, which requires training for a given application, the signals can be classified according to the desired specifications. The company is building up a database of use cases in order to draw on information already gained to shorten the training of the AI.

Because the sensor measurement is very fast, the new device can be used for process control in real-time. It is suitable for particles in different gases, as well as in liquids or powders. The company is developing a complete laboratory-scale instrument, also available as an ATEX version. It also offers OEM sensors that can then be adapted for specific applications. Q.ANT is already working with Festo SE & Co. KG (Esslingen am Neckar, Germany) to develop applications for monitoring and controlling algae growth, as well as with SICK AG (Waldkirch, Germany) for developing specific particle analyzers.

Source: Q.ANT