Researchers create disposable paper touch pads

Shane McGlaun - May 11, 2012
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.


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