Researchers at the University of Cambridge have announced that 3D printing tiny transparent conductive fibers can capture people’s breath and help diagnose medical conditions. This tiny conductive fiber, 100 times thinner than a human hair, is more powerful than conventional thin-film devices and can be used to make devices that enable “smell, hearing and touch”, making it ideal for health monitoring, IoT and biometric applications.
Fiber printing technology can be used to manufacture contactless, wearable, portable breathing sensors, with the advantage of high sensitivity, low production costs, the ability to connect to the phone, while collecting breathing pattern information, sound and images. Scientists believe the fiber can monitor the amount of breathing water leaking through facial masks to monitor breathing conditions, including normal breathing, rapid breathing and simulated coughing.
The performance of this sensor is significantly better than that of similar commercial sensors, especially in monitoring rapid breathing replication of shortness of breath. Fiber sensors are not directly used to detect virus particles, such as those exhaled by people infected with coronavirus. However, the sensor can help find leaks that occur through various types of masks.
The researchers found that most leaks from fabric or surgical masks came from the front, especially when coughing, while most leaks from N95 masks came from the top and sides. Printing technology can be used to make biosystotic fibers similar in size to biological cells, enabling them to guide cell movement and “feel” dynamic processes in the form of electrical signals.
Because the fibers are too small to be seen by the naked eye, the team says, when used to connect small electronic components, they can feel like they are floating in the air. This fiber is lightweight, inexpensive, small in size and easy to use, and is suitable for home test equipment.