Researchers create disposable paper touch pads

The touchpad is common today on devices like notebooks and other tech gadgets. Typically, the touchpad uses plastic and other components that are costly. A group of researchers has developed a new touchpad based on paper that is disposable and could usher in a new era of touch sensitive book covers and food labels. With new rules concerning nutritional facts, I could see a touchpad being a nice addition to a menu in a restaurant for instance.

A team of researchers from the United States and France has developed paper-based electronic touch pads that cost about $.25 per square meter. The touchpad is made from a metallized paper coated in aluminum and a transparent polymer. This coated paper can function as a capacitor. Lasers can also be used to cut several individual capacitors into the paper.

When a person touches the capacitors, capacitance increases. When connected to external circuitry and power, the system can detect a touch by noting increased capacitance. The next step in bringing these paper-based touch panels market is finding a cheap and flexible power source and electronics design that can also be thrown away. One product sample the researchers have developed using this technology is a box that has a keypad allowing authorized access only.