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Flexible, stretchable sensors for detecting hazardous materials and UV radiation

Technology Overview

Sensors have many uses and can be used in many applications.  They are particularly useful in the personal safety/health monitoring device market.  However, there are a number of issues with and limitations of presently available sensors.

The technology presented is a flexible and/or stretchable sensor which can detect a hazardous substance and/or electromagnetic radiation.  The invention has particular use in detecting the presence of hazardous gases and liquids as well as detecting ultra-violet (UV) radiation.

This technology offers a new pathway for the development of sophisticated, stretchable electronic devices that can be bent, stretched, twisted and folded into complex curvilinear shapes while maintaining their electronic characteristics, performance and reliability.

Cost-effective, bio-compatible, functional and curvilinear electronic and optoelectronic devices will now be able to be developed using these transparent and flexible or stretchable sensors.

Technology Features & Specifications

This novel hazardous substances and radiation detecting sensor is flexible and stretchable.  This unique quality enables the sensors to be incorporated on non-planar geometries.  The sensor can be made in a transparent form. 

The sensor is able to detect electromagnetic radiation and has a high dynamic sensing range of UV-A and UV-B radiation.  The sensor is also able to detect hazardous gas and liquid.  The fast response of the sensors makes them suitable for imaging applications. 

Due to the way the sensors have been developed, the stretchable sensors outperform their rigid counterparts under room temperature conditions.

Patent protection has been sought for this novel sensor and the method for the detection of hazardous substances and radiation using the sensor.

Potential Applications

The technology has applications across many industries and within many devices:

  • Medical equipment, for example, detecting harmful UV light radiation with applications in the prevention of skin ageing, eye damage and skin cancer
  • Communication equipment
  • Environmental monitoring, for example, devices for people working in hazardous or potentially hazardous environments
  • Wearable electronic devices
  • Imaging of visible-blind UV radiation for monitoring of sterilisation, lithography, flame detection and military applications
  • Flexible imaging array sensor
  • In-situ monitoring of industrial equipment
  • In vitro pH sensors
  • Transient and printable electronic devices
  • Sensory robotic skin

Further, the transparent nature of the sensor makes it useful in situations or devices where it is beneficial to see the item under the sensor or where the sensor should be as inconspicuous as possible.

Customer Benefits

This novel technology has led to the large area, stretchable, transparent and ultra-portable sensors being developed.  In addition, this technology allows sensing of certain substances to occur at room temperature, unlike presently available rigid sensors.  This significantly reduces the cost of particular devices and broadens the applications where they can be used.

Integrating biosensors into wearable technology could bring great benefits for medical care and for increasing safety in hazardous environments.  Sensors continue to be a key element of many personal safety systems. Sensors, such as the present technology, will become much more widespread in the personal safety sector and in hazardous environments as this technology evolves.

As an example, it is predicted that the market for printed gas sensors will grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 30% over the next 10 years.  This would create a global market worth $400 million (€316 million) in 2024.

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