Electronic fibre sensors developed which operate beyond the capabilities of traditional film-based devices

Service Engineering

3D printing techniques used by researchers from Cambridge University to render electronic fibre sensors are said to operate beyond the capabilities of traditional film-based devices. The clear conducting fibres are one-hundred times thinner than human hair and can be applied to the Internet of Things devices, health monitoring and biosensing.

The fibre printing technique, published in Science Advances, can be used to make compact and wearable respiratory sensors that are non-contact. According to Cambridge University, these printed sensors are low-cost, highly sensitive, and can be attached to a mobile phone to obtain sound, pictures, and pattern information simultaneously.

“Electronic fibre sensors created which operate beyond the capabilities of traditional film-based devices.“

First author Andy Wang, a PhD student from Cambridge’s Department of Engineering, used the fibre sensor to test the quantity of breath moisture leaked through his face mask, for rapid breathing, simulated coughing and natural breathing. Mr Wang found that the fibre sensors had significantly outperformed comparable commercial sensors, particularly in monitoring rapid breathing.

While the majority of leakage from N95 masks comes from the top and sides with tight fittings, it was found that the majority of the leakage from surgical or fabric masks comes from the front.

Research led from Cambridge's Department of Engineering, Dr Yan Yan Shery Huang, stated: “Sensors made from small conducting fibres are especially useful for volumetric sensing of fluid and gas in 3D compared to conventional thin-film techniques - but so far - it has been challenging to print and incorporate them into devices and to manufacture them at scale. Our fibre sensors are lightweight, cheap, small and easy to use, so they could potentially be turned into home-test devices to allow the general public to perform self-administered tests to get information about their environments.”

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