Phathom Nanosensors Gets Technology License

28th August 2008

A novel solid-state pH sensor technology invented at the University of Oxford is to be further developed and commercialised by San Francisco Bay Area based company Phathom Nanosensors Inc.

Phathom Nanosensors

The University’s technology transfer company, Oxford University Innovation has licensed the technology – originally developed for monitoring pH in oil wells – to Phathom Nanosensors, who will adapt it for other industries. The first industrial segment will be pharmaceutical, but measurement and control of pH is also vital in other industries such as water, food & beverage and chemical manufacturing.

The technology was developed by Prof Richard Compton at Oxford’s Physical and Theoretical Chemistry Laboratory. Compton’s group is a world leader in developing electrochemical sensors for extremely precise detection. A previous invention able to measure the amount of ‘drugs of impairment’ such as cannabis and amphetamines, by rapidly analysing a small sample of saliva is being developed by Oxford spin-out Oxtox Ltd.

“This is an exciting project because this technology has the potential to disintermediate a market worth nearly a billion dollars annually, that is dominated by a 70 year old technology,” said Lee Leonard, CEO of Phathom. “Introduction of these sensors will be analogous to replacement of vacuum tubes with solid-state transistors. With that comes the opportunity not only to improve existing processes already using pH measurement and control, but to address new opportunities where the existing technology cannot be used due to calibration, drift and mechanical limitations.”

Phathom Nanosensors has assembled a team of experienced scientists, executives and entrepreneurs, each of whom has started and grown highly successful multinational companies.

“Our pH sensor technology has several key advantages over the glass electrode technology still widely used in industry,” said Compton.  “They are more accurate, enabling tighter control of pH-critical manufacturing processes. Co-inventor Dr Greg Wildgoose added: “The sensors are also self-calibrating, eliminating the problem of reading drift over time experienced with glass pH electrodes.”

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