There are a wide variety of technologies that are being used to manufacture printed electronics systems. One company that is successfully reaching commercialization is Peratech Ltd., whose Quantum Tunnelling Composite (QTC) nanotechnology is making inroads into touch screens and other applications.
Recently, Peratech announced that its QTC sensors are now being used in Globalpower’brands’ new Touch 12V portable electric drill. The materials are utilized in the touch control; the companies have been collaborating on this project for more than two years, and Globalpowerbrands has licensed Peratech’s technology.
"The look and feel was a critical part of the design,” Peter Hosking, head of Globalpowerbrands, said. “QTC touch technology enabled us to create a really intuitive, touch control interface that is very responsive with the slightest changes in pressure on the sensor, instantly changing the speed of the drill.”
“This drill has two QTC pressure sensors in the trigger area, which replace the old mechanical trigger component on a standard drill” said David Lussey, Peratech's chief technology officer. “The QTC sensors are built into the front end of a logic circuit to provide the switching, braking and reversing logic as well as full-range speed control of the drill.”
The ability of QTC materials to react to pressure so efficiently is giving Peratech many openings to utilize its inks. Lussey reported that Peratech is developing a new range of QTC inks along with the UK Centre for Process Innovation. He added that these inks will enable QTC switches and sensors to be printed onto plastics, textiles or other substrates using standard printing techniques.
“At present, touch screen manufacturers are utilizing the vast resistance range capabilities and the anisotropic nature of QTC to build unique forms of touch screens that include the third dimensional element of touch pressure,” Lussey added. “The recent addition of a clear QTC with similar qualities to the original opaque QTC material has also aroused a lot of interest, as it means that for the first time, resistive touch screens can be placed directly in front of viewing screens. This opens up all sorts of new possibilities for the use of touch screens, especially if x,y and z functionality is required.”
Lussey sees many opportunities for this type to QTC-based sensor.
“This multi-capable switching and control functionality will expand into many more products and areas of use, including white goods, automobiles, packaging and textiles,” Lussey said. “The unique properties and bespoke nature of QTC lends itself to this rapidly expanding area of printable electronics. QTC has a number of possible uses in various fields, and is presently being considered by or on trial to a number of large companies for a wide variety of pressure sensing devices.”