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Helmholtz – Personalised medicine thanks to transformative EPR sensors

EARTO Innovation Awards 2021 – Impact Expected Category


Paramagnetic states (spins) play a crucial role in many of today’s societal challenges, such as healthcare. Electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) is the “golden tool” for the detection of paramagnetic species which critically determine the performance of semiconductor devices. The current EPR spectrometers use electromagnets and conventional microwave technologies. However, they are expensive, bulky, and power-hungry, preventing the widespread use of EPR.

Innovation: The Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie (HZB), EARTO Member through Helmholtz Association, developed the EPR-on-a-Chip (EPRoC), a universally applicable, easy-to-operate, and affordable sensor for paramagnetic states. EPRoC can be operated from a battery and is compatible with miniaturised permanent magnets. It integrates the entire EPR spectrometer into a single microchip with a tiny footprint of only a few mm2.

Impact Expected: EPRoC can be manufactured at approximately 1% of the cost of conventional EPR. The EPRoC technology is currently being explored as part of a nationwide network project lead by HZB. A spin-off company is expected to start in late 2022 and two major applications will be targeted within the next five years. EPRoC opens up a €50B market potential, with an average price of about 5,000 € per unit.

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Helmholtz is Germany’s largest scientific organisation. With more than 43,000 employees at 18 research centres, it contributes to solving major societal challenges.