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Recognisable proximity


Some fish perceive their surroundings in the dark.

Now, a Chinese-South Korean research team has developed a sensor that can recognise nearby objects without touching them.

Key to the enterprise is a composite film made from two highly conductive materials.

A polymer based on silicon (polydimethylsiloxane) and a few organic macromolecules (graphitic carbon nitride), which are mixed and then 3D printed into a thin mesh structure.

In composite form, the two materials have much lower conductivity, making it easier to detect electric fields.

The team’s prototype perceived a finger between 5 and 100 millimetres away. One potential field of application could be human/robot interaction.

Provided the latter aren’t already wearing sweaters, of course. 

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