The Quantum physics world is an exciting one where seemingly impossible things happen all the time. One of the most perplexing aspects is the movement of electrons through seemingly impenetrable barriers. Harnessing these sub-atomic quantum conduction mechanisms in Quantum Materials in order to drive environmental and societal change through innovation is taking place in the SocketSense project.
Electronic assemblies currently contain many elements known to cause issues with human health. Over recent years there has been a massive shift of public awareness regarding the need to improve things. QTSS™ Quantum Materials are patented quantum materials developed to allow low-weight, flexible electronic sensors to be made much more environmentally friendly and more simply in order to address society’s needs. This current project is based on the need for ‘prosthetic socket sensing’ to check the personal comfort and fit of a prosthetic socket in a simpler and more financially viable way than is presently available.
QTSS™ materials are based on ‘natural’ magnetite, which is an abundant and very ‘green’ material. It is even found on sandy beaches worldwide and gets kicked into sandwiches on beach picnics! …Of course, the other well known electronic element found in sand is silicon and silicon devices have dramatically transformed the electronics world to date. Alternative sensor technologies contain elements and compounds that are not as environmentally friendly or they are expensive and their production processes are complex creating large carbon footprints; QTSS™ materials don’t suffer these problems. QTSS™ Quantum Materials harness ‘nature’s’ sub-atomic quantum conduction mechanisms based on Quantum Mechanics Principles rather than Classical Mechanics Principles. Conduction in these sensing materials is achieved via tunnelling of electrons through insulative barriers around the magnetite particles (see Figure 1 below).
Quantum conduction allows these quantum materials to sense across the whole range of electrical conductivity, from insulator to conductor, and provides other unique and very useful electrical effects. It is also due to these quantum conduction mechanisms that QTSS™ materials have the ability to conduct ‘through’ the materials only at the point of applied pressure or stimulus (see Figure 2 below) and not throughout the whole body of the material, which is the case for most conductive materials. As these quantum materials are insulators in their normal state (ie. the quiescent resistance of these materials is extremely high) they tick another environmentally friendly box for ‘energy efficiency’ during use.
Electronic devices are becoming increasingly pervasive in our everyday lives in an ever increasingly connected world. Utilising these new ‘smarter’ and multi-functional enviro-friendly Quantum Materials that harness control of quantum conduction mechanisms will enable significant generational advances for simplified and more economically viable sensing solutions. Control of conductivity and other responses, individually or in a mix of resistive, capacitive, emissive or receptive modes provides us with new ways to protect and enhance human health and well-being as well as looking after the environment for future generations.