A flexible pressure sensor which is around 20 times more sensitive than commercially available carbon-based devices is reported in Nature Communications this week. Coupled with low power consumption, these may open up new possibilities in health monitoring and in realising human skin that mimics our own.
The detection of small pressures by the skin is essential in human beings. This ability is vital in ensuring that we do not come to harm, and is therefore a key attribute for artificial skin. Zhenan Bao and her group develop a unique design for flexible pressure sensors that are more responsive to small stimuli than was previously possible. They demonstrate the sensors are able to detect arterial heart pulses when placed around the wrist of a human subject, enabling low-cost and non-invasive health monitoring during operations.
The impressive pressure sensitivity, mechanical flexibility and long-life ability of these devices may prove critical in mobile health monitoring, and has potential in realising responsive robotics.