An EU Study was released concerning research being conducted in "Micro Electro-Mechanical" (MEM) technology, including progression towards new semiconductors with greater capacity, providing many opportunities for the maritime sector.
Scientists that are taking place in the project are focused on identifying key technologies to support the future needs and demands of the Atlantic maritime industry.
The report was authored by IDONIAL, a Spanish industrial design centre, in partnership with Marine South East in the UK and the INL. The former provides tailor-made solutions related to the development of materials, advanced manufacturing and the digital industry through technological development and innovation. Its team includes more than 160 professionals, delivering more than 120 R&D&I projects each year.
The project coordinator, Ana Vila, from the International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory (INL), commented that new advances in MEMS are leading to developments in marine navigation systems and autonomous exploration vehicles. Moreover, the advances improve the current ocean weather monitoring systems and biological and marine pollutant studies.
The report highlights how the electronics sector, and MEMS in particular, will enter a turning point in the coming years driven by advances in current technology including silicon semiconductors and possible progression towards new semiconductors or alternatives with greater capacity.
"Increased demand for smaller more intelligent electronic devices continues to drive advances on all levels ... This has combined to provide a host of new opportunities across the marine field"
... Ms Vila added.
MEMS also play a key role in any activity conducted in marine environments, such as weather monitoring and forecasting, traditional navigation and fisheries activities, as well as partially unassisted activities (associated renewable energy or aquaculture fields), which require complete sets of sensors capable of monitoring environmental variables.
"MEMS help produce short and medium-term weather prediction systems driving productivity."
Concerning marine biology and chemistry studies, sensor technology for the detection of analytes is also being developed at microelectromechanical levels. When combined with microfluidics, it is feasible to develop micro devices, with the capacity to act as real laboratories or 'labs on a chip'.
Concluding, the KETmaritime project is funded by the Interreg Atlantic Area Program, via the European Regional Development Fund. The consortium also includes French multidisciplinary research laboratory CIMAP (CEA group) and Portuguese maritime economic cluster Fórum Oceano. Ireland’s national centre for marine and renewable energy MaREI is delivering further support, alongside Spanish non-profit research association AIMEN.
Another study recently resulted to a record-breaking "blue-light" laser which has the ability to transform underwater range-finding while imaging and communication all over the maritime industry.