The year is coming to an end and we hope you’re enjoying the holiday period! As every month, we want to bring you the monthly news from the field of printed electronics: self-driving vehicles using printed sensors, skin sensors for UV protection and new devices for detecting resistant bacteria printed on paper! But it doesn’t stop here… December is a bit special: we’ve launched our annual newsletter! Cath up on all these novelties in our digest below.

Our annual newsletter has just been launched!

INNPAPER 3rd newsletter (2020)

Paper is on the rise as a good alternative to traditional materials for electronics: it’s cheap, flexible, renewable and recyclable, which make it perfect for reducing the negative impact of e-waste. At INNPAPER we aim to create an electronic platform, using paper as base material, to demonstrate the wide potential of this technology. This month, our annual newsletter has been launched and you have the opportunity to check out the progress towards a full implementation of our platform. Would you like to know the latest news and scientific updates from our project? Then, our newsletter is made for you!

Wearable sensors for sun burn protection!

According to the WHO, around 3 million people in the world are diagnosed with skin cancer each year, and approximately 66,000 people die from it. Consequently, monitoring the level of UV light that people are exposed to is now an important area of research. Due to the intermittent behaviour of UV radiation, 3D printed sensors could offer a way to its monitoring. However, researchers found that a new biocompatible ink is needed, to enable the continual contact of the sensor with the skin without damage. That’s why scientists from Clarkson University have developed a skin-friendly bio ink that includes titanium nanoparticles. When the sensor is exposed to UV radiation, it initiates a reaction with coloured dyes that degrade and change colour indicating exposure. The team deemed their bioink and biosensor to be a low-cost, accessible and customizable solution, that could prove to be a valuable platform for future research!

UV–sensitive biosensors © Applied Materials and Interfaces journal

3D Printed sensors for self-driving vehicles!

Autonomous vehicles are the future! However, to function effectively and safely, they must have a control and communication system which continuously monitors different parameters. As tyres are the car elements that interact with the driving space, they will be key. That’s why researchers are working towards developing smart tyres which are integrated with strain sensors that will be able to measure and transmit data at high frequencies and provide a high degree of real-time control. There’re still many challenges to overcome, but graphene could offer a solution due to its amazing properties. When coupled with its high sensitivity, graphene strain sensors can provide very accurate real-time data! All this led to a new approach that consists on 3D printing graphene strain sensors directly onto the surface of a tyre. The sensor is connected to an energy harvesting device and a wireless data transfer which are also embedded within the tyre. This sensing system is not only effective and solves key challenges, but it’s also something which could be key to ensuring that vehicles meet the required safety standards. Self-driving vehicles could be on the road very soon!

Detecting resistant bacteria with sensors printed on…paper!

Antibiotic-resistant bugs are bacteria that have acquired genes which make them unsusceptible to medicines. They cause thousands of deaths every year and one factor slowing down the fight against them is the amount of time needed to test for drug-resistance. Therefore, there’s a need to develop new methods for testing bacteria susceptibility to antibiotics and a scientist from New York has come up with an idea… papertronics! Paper can be used for almost any purpose imaginable and this researcher has used it as a substrate for printing sensors that can detect bacterial growth. There are some bacteria that use a process called electron transfer for growing and it can be detected by these sensors. So, if scientists inoculate bacteria with various antibiotics and then measure this parameter, a lower rate would mean the antibiotic is working.  The device could provide results in just five hours! Researchers are now working on how to make this technique general to all bacteria cells. This work is a further demonstration that papertronics have a promising future!