Sussex lecturer comments on new sensor technology…

Many of us would have received wearable trackers this Christmas – in a bid to get a little fitter in the new year, but the disadvantage to the current devices on the market is, well, you can take them off and lose them. Imagine if we could have a tracker that was less intrusive – and one that you could not lose…

Well, we may not be that far off. Wearable technology advances daily, with research being conducted into how they could best be integrated into our lives as well as the beneficial information they could convey, including here at the University of Sussex.

Dr Niko Munzenreider, lecturer in the Sensor Technology Research Centre here in the Department of Engineering and Design works in such areas, and was recently quoted in New Scientist commenting on a new stretchy transistor developed by a team at Stanford University.

A hand with a stretchy transitor tattooed on the knuckle of first finger

The health tracker you can’t lose Jie Xu, Sihong Wang – Stanford University

The new transistor, developed by Professor Zhenan Bao and team can stretch to twice it’s original length without losing conductivity. This could lead to wearable technology that could conform to the contours of the body with more ease than current iterations – such as a smart glove that could monitor the wearer with increased accuracy.

Quoted in the New Scientist, “The skin of humans can stretch up to 70 per cent. If the electronics can’t do that as well you have a problem,” says Niko Munzenrieder at the University of Sussex. “There have been other attempts at creating stretchy transistors, but this team has managed to make them in a cheap and easily replicated way. That’s really cool.”

Other stretchy transistors normally involve complex fabrication methods such as making an accordion-style transistor that can extend when stretched, but that’s generally harder and more expensive to create.

Munzenrieder says the advantages of Bao’s transistor come at the cost of some electrical performance, but they will be good enough for many different applications.

(image of Prof Bao’s wearable transistor via New Scientist)


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