We’re used to touchscreens, but now researchers have created new, touch-sensitive fibers that can be used to interact with electronic devices. The microscopic fibers are soft, stretchable and capable of detecting touch, strain and twisting, all of which could lead to new sorts of wearable devices and sensing applications.
The fibers created at North Carolina State University are made of a extremely thin strands of a tube-like polymer filled with a liquid metal alloy of eutectic gallium and indium (EGaIn). The strands are a few hundred microns in diameter, or just a little thicker than a human hair.
We’ve seen some similar approaches to creating flexible, wearable electronics using silver nanowires and conductive ink, but the use of liquid metal in this case is particularly interesting.
A two-strand version of the fiber can also be twisted together to measure rotation.