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Novel sensor gives humans magnetic sensing capabilities

Posted: 12 Feb 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:magnetic sensor? magnetoception? Leibniz-Institute?

A team of researchers from Germany and Japan has created a magnetic sensor that according to them is thin, robust and elastic enough to be smoothly adapted even to the most flexible part of the human palm. According to the scientists, the innovative device could equip humans with magnetic sense.

Magnetoception is a sense that allows bacteria, insects and even vertebrates such as birds and sharks to detect magnetic fields for orientation and navigation. Humans, however, are unable to perceive magnetic fields naturally. Denys Makarov and his team from the Leibniz-Institute for Solid-State and Materials Research (IFW) in Dresden have developed an electronic skin with a magneto-sensory system that equips the recipient with a "sixth sense" able to perceive the presence of magnetic fields.

Magnetic sensor

Magnetic sensor

With a thickness of just 2?m and an incredibly low weight of only 3g/m2, the sensors can even float on a soap bubble. Nevertheless, they are robust enough to survive extreme bending with radii of less than 3?m, and survive crumpling like a piece of paper without sacrificing the sensor performance. On elastic supports such as a rubber band, they can be stretched to more than 270 per cent and for over 1,000 cycles without fatigue. These features are imparted to the magnetoelectronic elements by their ultra-thin polymeric support.

"We have demonstrated an on-skin touch-less human-machine interaction platform, motion and displacement sensorics applicable for soft robots or functional medical implants as well as magnetic functionalities for electronics on the skin," said Michael Melzer, the PhD student of the ERC group led by Denys Makarov.

Due to their robustness and flexibility, these magnetic sensors are suited to be wearable, yet unobtrusive and imperceptible for orientation and manipulation aids, stated Oliver G. Schmidt, director of the Institute for Integrative Nanosciences at the IFW.

This work was carried out at the Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research (IFW Dresden) and the TU Chemnitz in close collaboration with partners at the University of Tokyo and Osaka University in Japan.

- Christoph Hammerschmidt
??EE Times Europe

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