Sentinel Photonics: An ERC Spinoff Success

Achievement date: 
2014
Outcome/accomplishment: 

A spinoff from the Center on Mid-InfraRed Technologies for Health and the Environment (MIRTHE), an NSF-funded Engineering Research Center (ERC) headquartered at Princeton University, Sentinel Photonics drew new awards and funding and grew from two to five employees in 2013. The company also developed a new line of products, ultra-compact multipass cells, which it sold to major instrumentation companies.

Impact/benefits: 

The multipass cells were the latest in a series of chemical sensors developed by Sentinel Photonics, whose products have direct application to environmental and industrial monitoring as well as defense. Sentinel develops sensors capable of extended operation in wireless sensor networks. Besides the growth in its workforce, which included hiring a MIRTHE post-doctoral researcher, the company also hosted a MIRTHE Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) student during the summer of 2013.

Explanation/Background: 

Sentinel Photonics is focused on current and future challenges facing chemical detection, with emphasis on providing industry-leading technology that will enable large-scale implementation of wide-area sensor networks. Sentinel's technology has been tested at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, Johns Hopkins University, Rice University, Princeton University, NASA, and the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

Sentinel Photonics is a good example of a product-based spinoff from an ERC. After incorporating, Sentinel became an affiliate industrial member of MIRTHE and participated in various interactions with the ERC, such as meetings and workshops as well as networking and technology-transfer opportunities. Sentinel's association with MIRTHE was beneficial to the start-up company from several perspectives: people, facilities, resources, connections to business and scientific communities, and visibility.