Scientists Use Tissue Paper to Develop Wearable Sensors

Scientists used tissue paper to create wearable sensors, which has the potential to detect human movements such as pulse, according to a new study published on February 14, 2018. 

A team of scientists from the University of Washington used tissue paper, similar to toilet paper, and converted it into a light and flexible sensor. The newly developed sensor has potential application in the fields of healthcare and robotics.

The sensor has the potential to detect movements such as a blink of an eye and pulse in human. The group of engineers have discovered that the tearing of tissue paper loaded with nanocomposites and breaking of paper fibers causes the paper to exhibit similar properties to that of a sensor.

This sensor has the ability to detect heartbeats and force applied by fingers, as well as movement of fingers and eyeballs, among others.

“The major innovation is a disposable wearable sensor made with cheap tissue paper. When we break the specimen, it will work as a sensor.” Said Jae-Hyun Chung, lead author of the study.

These sensors are small as band aids and are expected to be used in a variety of applications, including monitoring of gait or eye movements to inspect brain function or actions of game players. This sensor would make it a lot easier to track how a special-needs child walks in home setting, eliminating the need for hospital visits for the same. The sensors could also be used for seniors in occupational therapy. One can use these sensors once and then discard them, thus making them a one-time-use device.

Researchers used conventional toilet paper, further soaking them into water laced with carbon nanotubes—tiny materials that create electrical conductivity. Tissue paper has horizontal and vertical fibers, which in turn, help identifying the direction of the tear, if torn. Eye movement is detected by attaching this sensor to a readers reading glasses.

This development still needs further research to be converted into a product that can be suitable for commercialization. The benefits of this sensor are predicted to be myriad, especially being used in the healthcare industry for the detection of various diseases and abnormalities.

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