Waterproof and flexible sensors could unlock new applications in wearable electronics are developed by scientists in Korea. The finding of the study published in Science and Technology of Advanced Materials shows how pressure sensor can control a smartphone to capture photos, play music even when it is fully immersed in water.
The technology could bring a revolution in the way wearable electronics are used in healthcare, smart textiles, and for specific applications such as scuba diving equipment.
Flexible electronics could create an entirely new world of wearable technologies to monitor lifestyle and health. However, so far, a number of applications are held back because of lack of capability of pressure sensors to be exposed to water.
To demonstrate the capability of the new technology, one of the sensors was incorporated into flexible face mask. The sensors are sensitive to identify air circulation inside the mask, and could track and report breathing rate of the user in real-time.
Function-wise, the tiny movements caused by pressure change and electrical resistance are converted into electronic signals by the sensor. Akin to several similar flexible electronic devices, the design hand-created on a conducting material using a marker pen. This works to block the circuitry when the rest of the material is etched. The technique is cheaper also than traditional ones.
Following to this, a finger print sized circuit is mounted onto a blend of carbon nanotubes and wet tissue paper, which functions to measure pressure changes. In the next step, the layered sensor device covered with a strip of tape to make it waterproof.
Importantly, the magnitude and location of pressure applied on the sensor can be tracked using the device.