Soft pressure sensor is promising for health monitoring

January 06, 2020 //By Julien Happich
pressure sensor
Focusing on the design of wearable soft pressure sensors for real-time health monitoring applications, researchers from KAIST have developed a highly sensitive wearable pressure sensor capable of sensitive, precise, and continuous measurement of physiological and physical signals.

In order to improve on existing solid-state soft pressure sensors that often suffer from limited stretchability, signal drifting, and long-term instability, the researchers decided to rely on so-called liquid-state electronics using liquid metal such as Galinstan, an eutectic metal alloy of gallium, indium, and tin.

Highly sensitive liquid metal-based soft pressure sensor
integrated with 3D-printed microbump array. Credit. KAIST.

To increase the soft pressure sensor’s compliance and sensitivity over prior-art designs, the research team used 3D-printing to integrate a rigid microbump array and the master mold for a liquid metal microchannel, reducing the complexity of the manufacturing process. The integration of the rigid microbump within the flexible elastomer encasing the microchannels drastically decreases the detection limit as the rigid microbumps act as mechanical pressure point amplifiers. What’s more, the new sensor design detailed in a paper titled “Wearable Sensors: Highly Sensitive and Wearable Liquid Metal‐Based Pressure Sensor for Health Monitoring Applications: Integration of a 3D‐Printed Microbump Array with the Microchannel“ and published in the journal of Advanced Healthcare Materials exhibits a negligible signal drift over 10,000 cycles of pressure, bending, and stretching and exhibited excellent stability when subjected to various environmental conditions.

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