Research highlight

Applied physics: Flexible pressure sensors bring artificial skin to life

Nature Communications

February 5, 2014

Flexible pressure sensors that provide the possibility of usage over large areas while demonstrating sensitivity similar to the best performing devices to date, are reported in Nature Communications this week. These devices, which are simple and low-cost to create, bring us closer to the implementation of high-performance flexible pressure sensors in real devices, such as artificial skin.

Flexible pressure sensors have received substantial interest, and offer the possibility of artificial skins, which monitor pressure stimuli ranging from joint movement to pulse rate. Many of the device designs so far have relied on complex and expensive fabrication, limiting their use in the real world. Wenlong Cheng and colleagues report a flexible pressure sensor composed of gold nanowire impregnated tissue paper, sandwiched between two thin polymeric electrodes. They show that they are as sensitive as the best performing sensors to date, and demonstrate their use as a microphone and for monitoring heart rate. Importantly, their design lends itself to low-cost and simple large-area fabrication, while offering low power consumption.

These sensors bring us one step closer to realising futuristic electronic devices, including flexible touch-on displays, human-machine interfacing devices and prosthetic skins.

doi: 10.1038/ncomms4132

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