An international team of researchers, affiliated with UNIST has presented an innovative wearable technology that will turn your skin into a loudspeaker.
This breakthrough has been led by Professor Hyunhyub Ko in the School of Energy and Chemical Engineering at UNIST. Created in part to help the hearing and speech impaired, the new technology can be further explored for various potential applications, such as wearable IoT sensors and conformal health care devices.
In the study, the research team has developed ultrathin, transparent, and conductive hybrid nanomembranes with nanoscale thickness, consisting of an orthogonal silver nanowire array embedded in a polymer matrix. They, then, demonstrated their nanomembrane by making it into a loudspeaker that can be attached to almost anything to produce sounds. The researchers also introduced a similar device, acting as a microphone, which can be connected to smartphones and computers to unlock voice-activated security systems.
Nanomembranes (NMs) are molecularly thin separation layers with nanoscale thickness. Polymer NMs have attracted considerable attention owing to their outstanding advantages, such as extreme flexibility, ultralightweight, and excellent accessibility in that they can be attached directly to almost any surface. However, they tear easily and exhibit no electrical conductivity.
The research team has solved such issues by embedding a silver nanowire network within a polymer-based nanomembrane. This has enabled the demonstration of skin-attachable and imperceptible loudspeaker and microphone.
“Our ultrathin, transparent, and conductive hybrid NMs facilitate conformal contact with curvilinear and dynamic surfaces without any cracking or rupture,” says Saewon Kang in the doctoral program of Energy and Chemical Engineering at UNIST, the first author of the study.
He adds, “These layers are capable of detecting sounds and vocal vibrations produced by the triboelectric voltage signals corresponding to sounds, which could be further explored for various potential applications, such as sound input/output devices.”
thumbnail courtesy of unist.ac.kr