A wearable underwater touchscreen

A wearable underwater touchscreen

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By Nick Flaherty

Researchers in Korea have developed a wearable touchscreen that can operate underwater.

The wearable underwater touchscreen uses afterglow luminescent particles (ALPs) in mechanoluminescence (ML) and mechanical quenching (MQ)

The team at the Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) developed the optical display technology with ALPs that enables the writing and erasure of messages underwater.

The team, comprised of Professor Sei Kwang Hahn and PhD candidate Seong-Jong Kim from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the POSTECH created a device to implement ALPs which absorb energy and release it gradually, displaying mechanoluminescence when subjected to external physical pressure and undergoing mechanical quenching where the emitted light fades away.

While there has been active research around the technology for optical displays, the precise mechanism has remained elusive.

The team looked at the impact of trapped electrons and recharging on both mechanoluminescence and quenching and ALPs with a very thin polymeric material (PVDF-HFP). This combination resulted in the creation of an optical display patch that can be attached to the skin.

The display patch had the capability to convey information through writing with a small amount of pressure applied by the finger. When exposed to ultraviolet rays, the patch resets to a blank state, similar to erasing content from a sketchbook using an eraser. The touchscreen display is also resistant to humidity and maintains functionality even when submerged underwater for prolonged periods.

“It could serve as a communication tool in situations with limited communication options such as underwater environments characterized by low light or high humidity,” said Professor Sei Kwang Hahn who led the research. “It would be also used for wearable photonic biosensors and phototherapy systems in extreme environments.”


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