Sensors printed directly on the skin have been inching closer to commercial reality in recent years. The dream of highly sensitive sensors could have a wide array of applications, from robotics to medicine, but the field has been limited by its method of circuit printing. Currently, printing circuits directly on the skin requires a lot of heat – something the skin isn’t generally fond of.
Now, researchers believe they may have solved this problem. A team from Penn State University have developed a method of fabricating high-performance circuitry directly on skin without heat, according to a study published in ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces.
While flexible sensors already exist and have applications in future physiological monitoring, applying that technology to the skin has remained an issue for scientists. If this process is viable on a large scale, it may pave the way for the technology to help patients with various
The chances are you are reading these words on a smartphone or computer screen. For around the last 10 years, these types of screens have been based on a display technology composed of so-called thin film transistors. These are inorganic transistors which require very little power, and they have proven themselves very capable given their widespread adoption. But they have some limits which researchers have been busy trying to overcome.
“We explore new ways to improve upon thin film transistors, such as new designs or new methods of manufacture,” said Gyo Kitahara, a Ph.D. student from the Department of Applied Physics. “Organic thin film transistors, for example, have a bright future in LCD screen devices. Compared to the inorganic kind currently used, we expect the organic kind to be useful in low-cost, large-area, lightweight and wearable electronic products, especially by using printing-based production technologies.”
From capturing your breath to guiding biological cell movements, 3D printing of tiny, transparent conducting fibres could be used to make devices which can ‘smell, hear and touch’ — making it particularly useful for health monitoring, Internet of Things and biosensing applications.
Researchers from the University of Cambridge used 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, techniques to make electronic fibres, each 100 times thinner than a human hair, creating sensors beyond the capabilities of conventional film-based devices.
The fibre printing technique, reported in the journal Science Advances, can be used to make non-contact, wearable, portable respiratory sensors. These printed sensors are high-sensitivity, low-cost and can be attached to a mobile phone to collect breath pattern information, sound and images at the same time.
First author Andy Wang, a PhD student from Cambridge’s Department of Engineering, used the fibre sensor to test the amount of breath moisture leaked through his
3-D-printed metals have been used since the 1980s to produce a wide range of parts for various industries. These materials often have tiny pores inside them (around dozens of micrometers in size), which can get bigger when a load is applied to them, due to their manufacturing process. The team of researchers has analyzed what happens to these “micro voids” when applying a load to them in order to understand how these ductile metals (capable of absorbing energy) fracture.
“For example, most of the structural elements in cars are made of ductile metal, so that they are able to absorb energy in the event of a collision. This means that security will be increased if a traffic accident occurs. So, understanding and predicting how ductile metals fracture is