Feeds

Here come the CATBOTS: Boffins build 'whisker sensors'

Carbon nanotube creation sensitive enough to 'feel' paper resting on a desk

The next step in data security

A combination of carbon nanotubes and silver nanoparticles has created a whisker-like sensor that can detect pressure as small as one Pascal, which they describe as “about the pressure exerted on a table surface by a dollar bill.”

The boffins at the Berkeley Lab and the University of California (UC) Berkeley (with DARPA support) have successfully tested their development to create a 3D map of wind flow using the setup pictured below.

“Our electronic whiskers consist of high-aspect-ratio elastic fibers coated with conductive composite films of nanotubes and nanoparticles. In tests, these whiskers were 10 times more sensitive to pressure than all previously reported capacitive or resistive pressure sensors,” says scientist Ali Javey in the lab's release.

To create the “whiskers”, the researchers first created a “paste” of carbon nanotubes to create a bendable, electrically-conductive matrix as the substrate. To this, they added a thin film of silver nanoparticles to detect the strain on the whiskers attached to the base.

Berkeley's whisker-like wind detector

LBL's e-whisker wind detector. Image: Berkeley Lab

“In the future, e-whiskers could be used to mediate tactile sensing for the spatial mapping of nearby objects, and could also lead to wearable sensors for measuring heartbeat and pulse rate,” the lab says.

The Berkeley group says their “e-whiskers” are lightweight and easy to fabricate, making them suitable for applications in robotics, human-machine interfaces and biology. ®

New hybrid storage solutions

More from The Register

next story
PORTAL TO ELSEWHERE scried in small galaxy far, far away
Supermassive black hole dominates titchy star formation
Bacon-related medical breakthrough wins Ig Nobel prize
Is there ANYTHING cured pork can't do?
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Stray positrons caught on ISS hint at DARK MATTER source
Landlubber scope-gazers squint to horizons and see anti-electron count surge
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.