Microfluidic Flexible Sensor: Flex It, Wear It, Sense It!
When it comes to developing sensors, most technologies are bulky, rigid and expensive to manufacture. A team from NUS Department of Biomedical Engineering aim to solve this problem, through its new liquid-based, microfluidic tactile sensor. Like other tactile sensors, this sensor is able to detect and measure a range of properties and translate the information to be analysed by a connected intelligent system. However, what makes it so unique is its advantages of being small, thin, highly-flexible and durable. The device is also simple and cost-effective to produce.
This microfluidic tactile sensor adopts a liquid-based pressure sensing method, sensitive enough to detect changes in temperature, vibration and forces as small as 0.7grams. The device is fabricated on a flexible substrate similar to silicone rubber and uses a non-corrosive, 2-dimensional nanomaterial (e.g. graphene oxide) suspension in a liquid form as the sensing element.
The device has proved reliable in rigorous testing, including pressing, bending, stretching and even driving a car over it. In these tests, the electrical output remained highly uniformed and there was no damage in functionality of the sensor. The next steps for the NUS team is to make the sensor self-powered.
Applications and Advantages
This sensor has a wide range of applications, including medical devices, healthcare monitoring, consumer electronics or robotics. As it is flexible, it is ideal for use in monitoring natural body movements, since it can conform to different shapes or body curvatures.
The team has patented this technology and is looking for licensing and research partnerships to bring the technology to market.
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