Flexible nano pressure sensor will help doctors to detect breast cancer

The scientists has developed very flexible and transparent pressure sensor, which can maintain its accuracy even when curved around soft surfaces like human skin. This kind of nano sensor measuring just 8 micrometers thickness. And it can detect pressure in 144 locations at once. And one day it might be enable the health workers to screen the patients physically for things like breast cancer tumors etc. using this sensitive at pressure gloves.

If you see the conventional pressure sensors they already have some flexibility. But they lose their accuracy when they wrinkled or twisted. And they are thicker at about 100 micrometers. This super thin sensor developed by Japanese and US scientists retains its sensitivity even when conforming to extremely curved surfaces.

pressure sensor

According to the scientists this nano sensor retains its accuracy when it is bent over a radius of 80 micrometers, equivalent to just twice the width of a human hair. While it’s unlikely because most health workers would ever need to monitor such intensely small curves. It shows just how far the new sensor could help them in measuring pressure in rounded physical objects.

“Flexible electronics have great potential for implantable and wearable devices,” said lead researcher Sungwon Lee from the University of Tokyo. “I realised that many groups are developing flexible sensors that can measure pressure but none of them are suitable for measuring real objects since they are sensitive to distortion. That was my main motivation and I think we have proposed an effective solution to this problem.”

pressure sensor

For developing of this nano sensor the researchers added carbon nano tubes and graphene to an elastic polymer, creating nano fibers with a diameter of 300 – 700 nanometers. This kind of nano fibers were entangled with another to form a composite that is both transparent and extremely thin. It is coupled with an integrated sensor matrix measuring just 2 micrometers thick. And then the resulting nano fiber structure enables pressure for the measurements that physically weren’t possible before.

“Our simulations show that these fibers change their relative alignment to accommodate bending deformation, thus reducing the strain in individual fibers,” the authors write in Nature Nanotechnology.

The scientists say their pressure sensor could be used in a range of applications involving soft robotics and medical systems, and have begun preliminary experiments to demonstrate the powers of the nano fibers.

pressure sensor

“We’ve also tested the performance of our pressure sensor with an artificial blood vessel and found that it could detect small pressure changes and speed of pressure propagation,” said Lee.

It’s not the first time that we’ve seen researchers work with incredibly thin pressure sensor, but if it can help detect tumors hiding under people’s skin, we can’t wait to see where this technology leads.

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