A paper-based touch sensor with an embedded micro-probe array fabricated by double-sided laser printing†
Touch sensor is one of the key components for human interfacing devices. However, although various touch sensors have been demonstrated, their sophisticated fabrication processes and complicated structures make them expensive and delicate, and thus they are not considered to be practical for wide application in daily life. Herein, we present a low-cost and scalable paper-based touch sensor suitable for practical applications. The sensor is based on the novel structure of embedded silver nanowire micro-probe arrays in a paper substrate, which exhibits high sensitivity to multiple touch inputs and compact structure with a total thickness of ca. 100 μm. Silver nanowire electrodes on two sides are manufactured at the same time via an original double-sided laser printing technique. Since this technique is mask-free, solvent-free and highly efficient, it is very suitable for paper substrates that cannot endure solvent processing. The sensing properties of the sensor in various extreme situations are examined and the spatial distributions of touch pressure are detected by arranging the sensing units in arrays. Demonstration examples of the touch sensor and pressure mapping are presented, and finally, the successful application of the sensor array in an electronic lock system is shown to further illustrate its applicability.