Research Profile of the Department of Sensors and Measurement Technology

The Department of Sensors and Measurement Technology (SMT) of the Institute of Electrical Engineering and Measurement Technology, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Germany, mainly concentrates on the development of new physical and chemical sensor principles, sensors (nanosensors) and compact analytical tools for fast detection of trace-compounds in liquids and air mainly for medical, biotechnological, environmental, safety and security applications, covering both fundamental research aspects and application oriented projects often in close cooperation with industrial, clinical and scientific partners.

Ion Mobility Spectrometry

In particular, the SMT group has years of experience and comprehensive know-how in trace-compound detection in air with a focus on compact high-resolution ion mobility spectrometers (IMS) covering all aspects form analytical models and multi-physics FEM-simulations, system design and rapid prototyping, different non-radioactive ionization sources (corona discharge and dielectric barrier discharge ionization, photo and low energy x-ray ionization, electrospray ionization and non-radioactive electron emitters) to special electronics, such as fast, low-noise, high-gain amplifiers and fast, high-resolution data acquisition. Furthermore, the SMT group develops hyphenated IMS systems, e.g. closed gas loop IMS with fast gas-chromatographic pre-separation (GC-IMS) and IMS coupled to mass spectrometers (IMS-MS). Other related fields are atmospheric pressure ionization (API), ion chemistry and low pressure charge transfer reactions leading to low-pressure IMS (HiKE-IMS) for fast and quantitative gas detection even in complex gas mixtures with an extended range of detectable compounds.

Chemical, Biochemical and Electromagnetic Sensors

Besides IMS the SMT group develops chemical sensors based on different transducer principles with different selective sensing layers tailored to specific applications. In addition, new electromagnetic sensors e.g. for biomarker sensing, bioreactor monitoring, tissue characterization and other applications belong to the broad research portfolio. The SMT group has comprehensive know-how in the development of tailored electronics. Sensor design is accompanied by analytical models and multi-physics FEM-simulations.


Particular applications are the detection of toxic/hazardous compounds in air and liquids, monitoring of volatile metabolites, fast bacteria identification, exhaled breath analysis, bioreactor and -process control. The SMT group has well equipped research laboratories including chemical labs with reference analytics and gas dosing equipment for low ppbv-level concentrations, electronic labs and machine shops (CNC) for manufacturing prototypes and even small scale production. Both the electronic labs and the machine shops are operated by highly experienced technical staff.

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Stefan Zimmermann

The SMT group was established in 2009 by Prof. Dr.-Ing. Stefan Zimmermann. Before he was appointed full professor for Sensors and Measurement Technology at Leibniz Universität Hannover he was with the research unit of Dräger, Germany, where he worked from 2004 to 2009 on sensors and miniaturized sensor systems for medical and safety applications. His latest position was head of Chemical and Biochemical Sensors. In 2001, he joined the Berkeley Sensor and Actuator Center, University of California, USA as a postdoctoral scientist with support of a Feodor-Lynen Fellowship of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, where he worked on MEMS and BioMEMS, and in particular on a minimally invasive continuous glucose monitor. Before his stay abroad, Stefan Zimmermann received his Diploma in Electrical Engineering in 1996 and his Dr.-Ing. in 2001 from the Technical University Hamburg-Harburg, Germany. His doctoral thesis was on miniaturized flame spectrometers and ionization detectors for gas chromatography.

Due to years of experience and comprehensive know-how in trace-compound detection in various applications the SMT group can offer its sensor and electronics expertise to enhance joint research activities and projects.

Besides Professor Zimmermann the SMT group consists of 15 fully employed research engineers, about 35 student research assistants and 15 students working on their final theses, one technical and one administrative employee.

At a Glance

Technologies, equipment and know-how to offer at a glance: Trace-compound detection in liquids and air, compact high-resolution ion mobility spectrometry (IMS), GC-IMS, IMS-MS, HiKE-IMS, non-radioactive ionization sources (UV, DBD, CD, ESI, x-ray, electron emitters), gas sensors, chemical sensors, selective sensing layers, nanosensors, electromagnetic sensors, tailored electronics, multi-physics FEM-simulations, fast prototyping (CNC machine shop), low ppbv-level gas dosing equipment, medical (e.g. exhaled breath analysis and bacteria detection), biotechnological (bioreactor and -process monitoring), safety and security (toxic/hazardous compounds in air and liquids) sensor know-how.