01 Jun 2021
Dresden-based developer of tiny organic semiconductor sensors looks to mass-market spectroscopy applications.
Senorics, a startup company in Dresden, Germany, has closed an €8 million venture funding round that is expected to help the firm commercialize a new kind of optical spectroscopic sensor.
A graduate of last year’s SPIE Startup Challenge, Senorics is developing tiny sensors based on organic semiconductors - a particular specialty at the Technical University of Dresden, which has also produced companies such as organic photovoltaics specialist Heliatek.
Founded by current CEO Ronny Timmreck, Senorics had already gained support from optics giant Zeiss, which invested in the firm back in 2019.
Zeiss has now been joined by lead investor FIDURA Private Equity Fonds, which is known for its technology-focused portfolio. All existing supporters, including TGFS (Technologiegründerfonds Sachsen) and the Development Bank of Saxony (Sächsische Aufbaubank) also took part.
“With these powerful new partner[s] and investments, we will be able to commercialize our solution in the initial target application fields and further develop our patented optical sensor technology,” commented Timmreck.
“With FIDURA and Zeiss we have two new experienced investors on our side, which will support us with our next step: to scale our technology for the industrial market.”
Pilot line progress
According to the company, Senorics is currently working to set up a pilot line that should be completed imminently. “The pilot line is an important gateway for further scaling our technology.” Timmreck says.
Smaller than a one cent coin and thus with the potential for integration into household appliances and smartphones, the organic sensors allow contact-free analysis of material compositions - something that would typically require a bench-top spectrometer.
Said to be capable of interrogating visible and near-infrared wavelengths ranging from 400 nm to 1800 nm, the organic devices offer much broader spectral coverage than the 1100 nm limit found with silicon chips.
That is useful for sensing molecules including water, which has a relatively strong absorption peak at 1460 nm, or for distinguishing between different types of plastic or textiles, to help sort them for recycling.
Likening the current status of the technology to that of GPS in the 1990s, Senorics says that it wants to “incorporate spectroscopy into people’s daily life”.
Gerrit Schulte, the head of Zeiss’ venture unit, stated: “In a highly automated world, the need to meet high-quality standards, to develop compact, low-cost solutions such as the one developed by Senorics plays an important role to address new applications in material sensing.”
Klaus Ragotzky, the founder of FIDURA private equity funds, added in a Senorics release that the decisive factor in his decision to invest was the company’s unique and patented sensor technology, plus its “enormous” market potential.
“Compared to classic optical semiconductor sensors, whose technology in the infrared range is almost exhausted, organic semiconductor sensors offer great development potential here,” believes Ragotzky.