TechConnect Innovation Program

SansEC-A Multi-property Wireless Sensor Platform

NASA-Langley, Virginia, United States


A non-contact method for remotely powering and interrogating simple antenna-like magnetic field response sensors has been developed for measuring multiple physical quantities using the same sensor. The sensed material property only needs to influence either the sensor’s electric or magnetic field without direct contact with the sensor.

Primary Application Area: Electronics, Sensors & Communications

Technology Development Status: Prototype

Technology Readiness Level: TRL 6


Value Proposition: SansEC offers very low cost, wireless, multi-property sensing. The sensor is a simple copper coil and is interrogated with simple transponder. It is most valuable for measurements where electrical or physical contact between the sensor and the material measured or between the sensor and transponder is undesirable or impossible.


Organization Type: Academic/Gov Lab

Showcase Booth #: 819



Government Funding/Support to Date: NASA has supported development of SansEC-related technology for over 10 years at a funding level of approximately $300K to $1M per year—accounting for over $5M in total funding.. This work resulted in over 20 patent filings, several of which have issued, as well as three R&D 100 awards. The NASA work has been very broad in its potential applications— starting with fluid level measurement, and then expanding to a full range of physical sensing, including temperature, pressure, rotation, proximity, and damage/ puncturing. It has been licensed for fluid level measurement in marine applications and for cryogenic fluid level measurement.

A variant of this technology also demonstrated the potential for selected chemical measurement. For the past few years, the LaRC team has been exploring the use of SansEC technology to both detect and mitigate lightning strikes on commercial (composite) aircraft. When applied to the aircraft surfaces, the technology can provide electrical conduits to dissipate lightening and will show the area of most potential damage. SansEC may also be useful in detecting other forms of physical damage such as bird strikes or mechanical impact during ground operation. These impacts are of particular concern for the new composite Boeing 787 and other largely composite aircraft.
Development of second aircraft application is just beginning having to do with fuel level (or quantity) measurement without wires penetrating the tank, which is a very important safety application and which will have related applications for all hazardous or flammable liquids.
During the past year, a number of important improvements have been made including successful modeling of the sensor in several applications. Most importantly, we demonstrated measurements could easily be made at a distance of 30 feet (and probably at 100's of feet) while still employing very low power (100 miliwatt) electromagnetic interrogation.

Primary Sources of Funding: Federal Grant

Looking for: Development / License Partners