Tiny Paper Accelerometer Points To A Future Of Pervasive Sensors

Tiny Paper Accelerometer Points To A Future Of Pervasive Sensors

Harvard researcher George Whitesides has created an inexpensive device to measure the g-forces an object is experiencing.

Don Michael Acelar De Leon
  • 15 february 2011

A professor at Harvard University has developed a way to make motion sensors available to everyone. Using chromatography paper as a key component, George Whitesides developed a paper accelerometer using tiny sliver, carbon contact pads, and vinyl stencils. Popular Science explains:

Accelerometers are found in everything from car airbag systems to bridges to iPhones, where they basically measure the g-forces an object is experiencing. This information is relayed to other systems. In a car, for instance, acceleration forces might trigger airbags to deploy. The NFL is researching the use of accelerometers in football helmets to study head impacts.

Most MEMS accelerometers are silicon-based, and fabricating them takes several days of work inside clean rooms. But building the paper ones just requires some scissors, glue and thick paper, according to IEEE. The paper sensor, which is a bit larger than a dime, consists of a cantilever cut out of chromatography paper, which is used for chemistry experiments. It bends under force and stresses a carbon piece, which changes the piece’s resistance.

The Whitesides Research Group

PopSci: “Harvard’s Four-Cent Paper Accelerometer Could Make Motion Sensing Ubiquitous”


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