Apple could soon make a run for the research reports of Yi Chen and his team of nano-material researchers from Australia. The team has developed a revolutionary ultrathin gold wire with highly sensitive and flexible pressure sensors which hold immense potential in the field of medicine and wearable tech. Study co-author, Willem Schwalb, is hoping that Apple is listening to the positive reviews to the outcome of their research, especially with the much rumored iWatch launch lurking around the corner.
The technology developed by the team relies on a symbiotic mixing of gold salts with oleylamine to achieve the desired nanowires which has a thread-like appearance. It takes almost two days for the chemical reaction between the salt and the chemical to complete. After the chemical reaction culminates, the nano-threads are then placed in contact with a material which acts like a giant soaking paper towel. The golden threads get absorbed by this tissue-material and which is then sandwiched between a couple of sleek rubber sheets.
Chen clarifies that all the sheets used are thin which ensures that the total thickness of the entire assembly remains at .02 inches. When pressure is applied to this sheet, a change in electrical flow through it can be read to initiate appropriate output, thus used as a ultra-sensitive pressure sensor.
The sensors are a sensible choice for technology innovators for two very fundamental and yet the most important criteria it meets. Power consumption and flexibility have been the focal point of all manufacturers concentrating on creating highly efficient wearable devices. With minimal energy consumption at a battery voltage of 1.5volt and resistance to breakage from bending, excessive vibration and brute force, the gold nano-wires are an ideal step towards a great future for wearable tech.
A revolutionary set of sensors is long awaited in the wearable tech arena and companies like Apple along with Samsung would be closely listening to every word that Chen’s team would have to disclose about their innovative flexible gold wires. Another feature of these wires that would hold particular interest to these companies would be the ultra sensitivity of the nano-wires and along with nano response time to touch, as claimed by researches. This feature gives it an edge over any other existing pressure sensing tech available and should be soon adopted by many companies to go one up against their competitors immediately.
The problem with current crop sensors is its reliance on brittle semiconductor materials which requires a clean room to fabricate. Creating dust and contamination free environment for production of the sensors escalates the cost further. The gold nano-wires, however, require no such extravagant conditions to produce, resulting in a cost friendly solution for companies.
As is being witnessed, touch screens and touch operated devices have started to become a part of the general lifestyle with ATM’s to aircraft carriers, all using the technology in some form. However, the current cost of manufacturing is expensive and innovators have been constantly in search for cheaper alternatives. That the answer was ultimately found in gold is itself ironic considering that the metal’s price has reached sky-high proportions across the world.
The development also rings-in good news for the medical field owing to its ability to mimic human skin sensitivity, paving way for artificial skin to be developed. With an initial utility in reading physical data like blood pressure etc, artificial skin presents unlimited exciting possibilities to scientists for the medical field. With technology companies already focusing their attention to the multi-billion dollar medical and fitness industry, anyone claiming superiority over such tech would definitely race ahead.
It may also be recalled that Apple top executives had recently met FDA bosses, possibly to discuss Apple’s tech expansion and its implications in the health industry. Tweets have been flowing around to announce “Apple Gets Health and Fitness Conscious” and the meeting with top executives of both Apple and FDA in attendance would have been held to discuss some major innovation.
Irrespective, of the outcome of the meeting, the legion of Apple fans are awaiting for the next hi-tech device to be released by Apple. Apple should definitely benefit from the flexible gold wires developed by the team lead by Yi Chen and the world would be listening closely for the next touch screen revolution to ring its first bell.
By Daris Abraham