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A research team from Purdue University has developed a way to transform regular paper sheets into a machine input interface. To demonstrate their invention, the team came up with an interactive food packaging solution to verify the safety of food and a music player interface.
The study is published in the Nano Energy journal.
Ramses Martinez told Eurekalert "This is the first time a self-powered paper-based electronic device is demonstrated," he's an asst. professor in the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering in Purdue's College of Engineering and in Purdue's School of Industrial Engineering and in the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering in Purdue's College of Engineering.
Martinez continued "We developed a method to render paper repellent to water, oil, and dust by coating it with highly fluorinated molecules. This omniphobic coating allows us to print multiple layers of circuits onto paper without getting the ink to smear from one layer to the next one."
A material being omniphobic means that it does not like soaking in any sort of material. To exemplify, a sponge is hydrophilic, meaning it likes absorbing water.
While a plant leaf is hydrophobic, meaning it doesn't want to take in water.
Martinez explains that they achieved this by implementing vertical pressure sensors, which harness their required energy from their contact with the user, thus requiring no additional power source.
Martinez notes, "I envision this technology to facilitate the user interaction with food packaging, to verify if the food is safe to be consumed, or enabling users to sign the package that arrives at home by dragging their finger over the box to properly identify themselves as the owner of the package."
"Additionally, our group demonstrated that simple paper sheets from a notebook can be transformed into music player interfaces for users to choose songs, play them, and change their volume."