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Flexible pressure-sensor film shows how much force a surface 'feels' -- in color

Date:
April 30, 2014
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
A newly developed pressure sensor could help car manufacturers design safer automobiles and even help Little League players hold their bats with a better grip, scientists report. Their high-resolution sensor can be painted onto surfaces or built into gloves.

Using colors from deep blue to rich coral, a novel sensor can tell us how much force and pressure objects such as crash-test dummies “feel.”
Credit: Image courtesy of American Chemical Society

A newly developed pressure sensor could help car manufacturers design safer automobiles and even help Little League players hold their bats with a better grip, scientists report. The study describing their high-resolution sensor, which can be painted onto surfaces or built into gloves, appears in the ACS journal Nano Letters.

Yadong Yin and colleagues explain that pressure is a part of our daily lives. We and the objects around us constantly exert pressure on surfaces, from a simple, light touch of a finger on a smartphone screen to the impact of a head-on car collision. To design better cars, smartphones and other objects we use every day, scientists need to know how much force they can withstand. Most pressure gauges are bulky hunks of metal that can't fit into tight spaces. Other sensors on the market are thin and can indicate stresses with different shades of the same color, but they are difficult to interpret and have low resolution and contrast, says Yin. To overcome these challenges, the team turned to nanoparticles -- which are so small that 1,000 would fit across the width of a human hair.

Tiny gold nanoparticles can join together in chains, and disrupting these chains results in a change in color. The researchers took advantage of that unique property to design a new type of pressure-sensor film, which is a deep blue color when the nanoparticles are linked together, but becomes ruby red when the nanoparticles irreversibly disassemble under stress. "Our colorimetric sensor film changes color, not just color intensity, which gives us the benefit of higher contrast and resolution," says Yin. "We also can make it into a liquid, which can be painted on objects such as crash test dummies that have complex surfaces."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Xiaogang Han, Yiding Liu, Yadong Yin. Colorimetric Stress Memory Sensor Based on Disassembly of Gold Nanoparticle Chains. Nano Letters, 2014; 140408153751001 DOI: 10.1021/nl500144k

Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "Flexible pressure-sensor film shows how much force a surface 'feels' -- in color." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140430112251.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2014, April 30). Flexible pressure-sensor film shows how much force a surface 'feels' -- in color. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140430112251.htm
American Chemical Society. "Flexible pressure-sensor film shows how much force a surface 'feels' -- in color." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140430112251.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

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New Revolutionary Sensor Links Pressure to Color Change

Apr. 30, 2014 A high-resolution pressure sensor indicates pressure by varying its color -- a sensor that all of us can use with just our eyes. This sensor differs from commercially available pressure sensor films. ... read more
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