Heraeus: a printable and flexible smart sensor

carbon particle matrix
This microscopic image shows the carbon particle matrix behind the Heraeus sensor technology. [Image courtesy of Heraeus]

Heraeus is touting new printable and flexible smart sensor technology that has two major benefits: It is cost effective, and medical device companies can easily add it to existing designs. In other words, there is no need to design around it.

“With this ground-breaking new sensing technology, we currently see great opportunities to add functionalities in a variety of applications such as catheters, health-monitoring wearables and robotics-assisted surgical procedures. Imagine a device with this new sensing technology providing a tactile feeling to a catheter or surgical robot,” said Stefan Schibli, sensor development program manager at Heraeus.

Heraeus officials say the sensor technology is so hassle-free because it can be put into any form and shape - and it is printable. Even better, a device creator through the printing or over-molding of the new sensors can actually replace part of the polymeric body of a device. A manufacturer can use the same substrate as before and mix it with Heraeus’s sensor matrix to seamlessly integrate a sensor into a current device.

The smart sensor technology includes two main elements:

  • There’s an elastomer needed according to the device’s application. It provides the deforming function at mechanical impact.
  • Even more important, there is the microscopic carbon particle matrix that Heraeus has developed. The carbon particle matrix provides the necessary electrical feedback for various smart sensing functionalities, according to Heraeus. The carbon particle matrix is a smart material with a unique pore size. Medical device designers and engineers can adjust purity, porosity, surface functionalization and microstructure to fine tune the smart material’s performance.

Plus, the materials used in the technology are biocompatible, so there is no need for encapsulation.