MIT Technology Review reports Peratech has developed a new pressure sensing technology for touchscreens. The new approach uses quantum tunneling composite (QTC) and promises to be more sensitive and more efficient than other designs. More info over here.
Peratech, which was spun out of a research lab at Durham University in 1996, uses an electrically conductive material dubbed a quantum tunneling composite (QTC). Quantum tunneling occurs when electrons jump between two conductors that are brought close together, but remain separated by an insulating barrier. In Peratech's switches, a polymer acts as the insulating layer. It is embedded with spiky, conductive metallic particles, each about 10 nanometers in size.
"These are polymer materials that change their resistance as force is applied," says Philip Taysom, Peratech's CEO. So as force is applied, these particles are brought closer together. "As they come into proximity, they allow quantum tunneling," he says.