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Finding an evaluating new business opportunities for CERN’s depleted CMOS Sensor


Projektpartner: CERN / Wintersemester 2014/2015


The primary goal of this project was to identify and evaluate commercially attractive fields of application for the “depleted CMOS sensor” technology beyond high-energy particle physics experiments. The identified fields of application should be analyzed with regard to their commercially attractiveness and technological feasibility. These application fields have to be in compliance with CERN’s mission statement and therefore fit to its strategic orientation.

Initial Situation

CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is one of the world’s largest centres for scientific research dedicated to particle-, fundamental, and high-energy physics. It was founded in 1954 by 12 primary member countries and has developed the world’s largest and most complex scientific instruments to conduct experiments, foremost the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) as the most famous particle accelerator. In addition to utilizing its technologies for its own purpose, CERN makes its developments available to a broad range of people by sharing its in-house knowledge. One of these developments is the “depleted CMOS sensor”, a highly sensitive radiation sensor that allows a precise measurement of a moving particle that passes through the detector. precisely.


In order to reach these goals, the project was conducted following the User Community-based approach for Technological Competence Leveraging. This concept aims to include current and potential users of a technology into the search for alternative applications and consists of four interrelated steps. These include the Identification of key benefits of the “depleted CMOS sensor” technology, a systematic search for new application fields via broadcasting and pyramiding, the analysis of the commercial potential of identified applications as well as the development of commercialization strategies for the most auspicious application fields.


After conducting interviews with current and potential users of micro-scintillation detectors, four main benefits of the technology were identified from a user’s perspective including High integration of the depleted CMOS sensor, Single Particle Detection, Detect Infrared light, Radiation hardness.

Based on these findings, various fields of application with high utilization of the benefits were identified of which seven seemed viable and were examined and according to predefined criteria. In accordance with the project partner, the commercially and strategically most promising application fields were selected for further analysis consisting of market and competitor analyses. Based on these analyses, suitable business models were developed for two of the three chosen applications; the latter has been explored in terms of interesting market segments within the application field.

The three top-evaluated fields are:

  1. Dosimetry: After market research about the European as well as the global market, the general market potential amounts to 200-320 mio. $. The long-term growth in terms of personnel is calculated to be about 5% a year. In conclusion this field of application shows great promise – the use of the “depleted CMOS sensor” will set a high standard for any possible competitor.

  2. Quality Management in Food industry: Accuracy, rapidity and safety are the essential requirements for every automated technique in this area of application. The technology of the “depleted CMOS sensor” allows an innovative All-in-one system, x-ray and infrared measurement in one device, which is currently not available to the market. Increasing standards of quality and safety in the food industry are the main reasons for the ever growing market. The European market for X-Ray inspection systems is huge (20-30 bn) and shows a steady growth of about 2% annually.

  3. Robotic Exploration: Viable, identified market segments include mine sweeping, exploration of pipelines and site-exploration after radioactive accidents of which mine sweeping exhibits substantial market potential and growth, necessary pre-requisites for companies to engage.


Cooperation Partner

  • CERN - European Organization of Nuclear Research
    Route de Meyrin 385
    1217 Meyrin

  • Dr. Heinz Pernegger,
    Dr. Petra Riedler,


Student team

  • Gerke Buß
    Alexander Fitzka
    Sebastian Phillip Heim
    Gregor Kleibl
    Armin Klotz
    Danijel Milosavljevic
    Michaela Motowidlo
    Frederik Olivanti


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