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The latest advancements in pressure measurement

In this issue of Products and Services Review, we are delighted to announce that we have chosen to present our Industry Excellence Award to ESI Technology Ltd for the outstanding quality and performance of its Silicon-on-Sapphire Sensing Technology for the pressure measurement industry.

Established in 1984, ESI Technology Ltd has grown into a worldwide supplier of ‘in house’ manufactured pressure transducer and transmitters. With its early success deriving from its design solutions catered for challenging military and aerospace applications, its recent Silicon-on-Sapphire Sensing Technology has truly established the company as a market leader in the pressure measurement industry.

“The use of our Silicon-on-Sapphire (SOS) Technology has greatly developed and elevated the pressure sensing field. Our SOS sensor can measure ranges from vacuum to 5,000 bar pressure in extreme environments such as high temperature or subsea and has excellent chemical compatibility. We call it our most durable sensor,” stated Mikaela Jones, Marketing Officer at ESI Technology Ltd.

Pressure measurement plays a very important role to many applications across thousands of industries. However, with the various pressure ranges, temperature and media available, it can be difficult to know what sensor technology is right for your specific application. ESI Technology Ltd has created a solution for this specific reason. The Silicon-on-Sapphire (SOS) sensor is the answer to accurate and reliable pressure measurement we’ve all been waiting for.

SOS is a technology that is part of the Silicon on Insulator (SOI) family, which is a semi-conductive structure that is created through a process known as heteroepitaxy. This is where an epitaxial (or crystal growth) layer is deposited on the surface of a different material, in this case a thin layer of silicon is physically placed onto a sapphire wafer at a very high temperature and bonded.

There are two parts to the process: The Sapphire and The Bonding. The Sapphire wafers used in SOS technology are grown as a single gem in a highly controlled laboratory environment, ensuring no impurities or imperfections in the finished structure. The crystal is then cut at a rough 60° angle, and is referred to as the ‘r-plane’. Because of the precise angle of the cut, Sapphire wafers have extra Oxygen atoms that almost mirror the spacing of Oxygen atoms found in the plane of Silicon. This natural symmetry allows the Oxygen atom in the Silicon to bond to the Oxygen atom in the Sapphire, completing The Bonding process.

Silicon-on-Sapphire Sensor Technology is incorporated into ESI’s portfolio through a range of high standard products, but what is it and how is it created? Mikaela explained more, “The sensor is actually created by attaching a thin layer of silicon onto a sapphire wafer at a very high temperature. These bond the two materials together without the use of glue or any other material. A strain gauge circuit is then formed directly onto the silicon to create the pressure sensor. The sapphire base of the sensor has incredible insulating properties that protects the sensor from damage, and the lack of bonding agent between the two elements allows for a highly reliable and accurate sensor. The elastic nature of the sapphire also provides great durability and repeatability for the sensor and ensures minimal hysteresis under stress. We can actually offer an accuracy rate of up to 0.1% with it. Being able to operate through such an extensive pressure range at such a high accuracy rate is pretty incredible. We’re very proud of it.”

ESI Technology Ltd provides pressure measuring solutions across a variety of industry sectors such as aerospace, defence, oil and gas, subsea, medical, automotive, marine, process, and general industrial markets. Each solution available comes with a combination of certifications and approvals including DNV-GL, ATEX and IECEx. However, most recently the advancement in ESI’s Hydrogen compatible range has opened up new sectors of the renewable energies market awaiting exploration.

The three new product launches, all led by a demand from its customers include firstly, the HI6000. A digitally compensated pressure transmitter capable of performing at constant media and ambient temperatures of up to 135°C-150°C for limited periods. Secondly, the RS-485 Series comprises of a range of RS-485 output transmitters and transducers with a communication range of up to 1,200m that are perfectly suited to ROV and deep-sea test situations, as well as continuous monitoring of process liquids, measurement and control of pressure in refrigeration, pneumatic, compressor, HVAC and engine monitoring systems. Lastly, the most exciting product, is the Hydrogen Compatible Series. ESI Technology Ltd has recently test passed status for a range of pressure transmitters and transducers that are deemed suitable for use within Hydrogen Environments. The testing is based on ISO 1114-2:2017 according to the European Regulations EC 79/2009 and EU 406/2010.

“We’re excited to see where the development of our Hydrogen compatible range can take us. The advancement in renewable energies is unavoidable and we’d like to be part of the solution. We already provide solutions within wind farm construction, nuclear power, and waste water cleaning and management so we’re excited at the prospect of helping the market of Hydrogen fuelled technologies,” said Mikaela.

In closing we asked Mikaela what a commitment to excellence means to the company, she answered, “A commitment to excellence really is the pinnacle to what we are trying to achieve with our product design, customer experience, employee well-being and everything else in-between. Continuous improvement will help us grow and evolve as a company along with the changing world. Consistency, support, and focus really embodies everything ESI Technology Ltd is built upon. That, and our incredible team of customers and staff. Our in-house design and manufacturing capabilities enables us to offer the highest quality, personal service to our clients. We of course would not be successful without our employees. The majority of our staff have worked here for the upmost of 30+ years. We appreciate every single one of them, and this translates though the quality and commitment we retain in our employee’s work ethic and our products. Our product focus has always been driven by customer demand. Our R&D team work extensively to bring out the most intelligent, on-demand solutions that our customers are asking for. This makes us one of a kind.”

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