Research develop humidity sensor for noncontact control of touch screen devices

13, May. 2020

Photo by timothy muza on Unsplash
Photo by timothy muza on Unsplash

SEOUL, AJU - A state research institute has developed a humidity sensor that precisely detects physiological human body signals in real time. Users can operate devices involving touch input such as touch screens without touching the surface to avoid contact with viruses or pollutants.

The Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) said in a statement on Wednesday that its research team has developed a wearable sensor capable of detecting human skin moisture using molybdenum sulfide (MoS2), an inorganic compound composed of molybdenum and sulfur, to create a honeycomb-shaped array of nanotubes.

The noncontact film-type sensor can be adhered to any surfaces to detect moisture from body parts such as fingertips, human breath and sweat. Created in a patch-type sensor, it can be adhered to human skin to detect changes in the amount of sweat during fitness workout sessions in real time.

The institute said its new sensor is up to 660 times more sensitive than conventional humidity sensors. A sensor sized 25 square millimeters (0.0038 inches) was able to detect sweat on the palm of a hand that was one centimeter away.

ETRI professor Choi Choon-ki said that the institute has applied for a patent. He said that commercialization is possible in two years if the technology is transferred. A research paper was published in the March issue of Applied Materials & Interfaces, an international scientific journal.

The noncontact sensor could be widely used on devices such as ATMs, digital information signage boards and elevator buttons that involve direct contacts with a random population. Such contact-avoiding technologies received attention as people find noncontact ways in operating devices to prevent COVID-19 infections.

To prevent infection through direct contact with elevator buttons and other button-operated devices, special anti-virus films containing copper are widely used.