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Still Waters

Scientists make paper digitally interactive

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Still Waters

Engineers at Purdue University have developed a printing process that can turn an ordinary sheet of paper into a Bluetooth-connected, self-powered, wireless, interactive keyboard or keypad.

First, the team takes a plain old sheet of paper with a typical alphabetical keyboard, numeric keypad or even piano keys printed on it and places coats it with a neon-green, omniphobic solution, which repels just about everything, including dust, water and oil, reports Gizmodo's Victoria Song. The solution dries clear, and then the engineers can "print" circuit layers over the page without smearing the ink, according to a press release. The layers are constructed to be triboelectric, meaning friction generates its electricity. Essentially, each time a "key" is pressed, energy is produced, so the paper-based tablet is totally self-powered.

In a preprint paper published in the scientific journal Nano Energy, the researchers explain that those now triboelectric areas can then be used to relay “Bluetooth wireless communication,” much like a wireless keyboard relays letters, numbers and other data to a computer.




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