Ultra-sensitive touch sensor for domestic, commercial and industrial use

May 13, 2013 // By Graham Prophet
Peratech has developed an ultra-sensitive sensor using its QTC technology. Quantum Tunnelling Composite material changes its resistance when pressure is applied, enabling it to be used to make pressure sensors that can respond to light touches even through steel or glass.

"We have developed a sensor design that is so sensitive that it can be mounted behind a 0.1mm stainless steel or 0.5mm glass sheet and still detect the pressure of a finger on the top of the sheet," said David Lussey, CTO of Peratech. "The QTC Ultra Sensor only takes a deflection of a micron or so for QTC to sense the touch through the sheet."

Fitting conventional switches to products always introduces a point of possible failure either within the switch or the fitting of the switch. QTC Ultra Sensor solve this as it can either be fitted as a small piece of QTC sheeting or screen printed on the back of the steel plate as required by the product designer. The design works equally well with other materials such as plastics, glass or wood provided that there is enough flex to activate the QTC switch. It can even be used behind translucent materials to create secret-until-lit buttons. QTC solutions are thinner, smaller, more discrete, less expensive and ultra-reliable as there is no air gap and no moving parts making them ideal for domestic, commercial and industrial equipment.

Peratech is not selling the QTC Ultra Sensor as it uses the highly successful, Intellectual Property business model whereby it licenses the use of its QTC technology solutions to customers. "QTC Ultra Sensors have already attracted interest from white goods and automotive manufacturers," explained David Lussey. "By taking a license they can deploy QTC Ultra Sensors throughout their product range to give sleek, discrete and ultra-reliable touch controls."

QTC material has nano-sized particles of conductive material evenly distributed in a non-conductive polymer. When a force is applied the particles move close enough for electrons to flow between the particles using an effect called Quantum Tunnelling. QTC technology has been used to make the world's thinnest switch at only a few microns thick and can be made into any shape required or