As many of us already know, the age of the touch screen is here. Today’s sleek smartphones have come a long way since the big, boxy mobile phones of the 1980’s. Even though they no longer require buttons, our new and interconnected touch screen devices do require additional security measures to keep them safe. Fingerprint sensors have become a popular gateway into our mobile worlds. The fingerprint sensor, however, still remains an awkward and button-like add-on. This is due, in part, to the challenge of making the fingerprint sensor both thin and transparent. While previously developed optical fingerprint sensors could operate through clear touch screens, they required an impractically large working volume. In this work, Cui and colleagues present a solution to this problem with an extremely thin optical fingerprint sensor based on two metallic gratings and total internal reflection. Their thin sensor could potentially squeeze into the screen of a cell phone or laptop. With this new device, you’d just have to touch the screen to unlock it, and we would finally be rid of that last button.
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