Polymeric nanocomposite fibers pave the way for next-generation wearable sensors. Researchers at Tsinghua University demonstrated resilient sensors that can simultaneously monitor temperature and stresses via upconversion luminescence. Polymeric optical fibers are often considered to be inferior in optical quality to glass fibers. However, for many applications, higher attenuation is not an issue and low production cost, superior mechanical durability, and the tailorability of their optical and physical properties make them an ideal platform for the development of multifunctional fiber optics. The long molecular chain of the polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) polymer makes it possible to obtain a highly elastic material that stretches similarly to human skin. The addition of luminescent properties essentially implements an optical analogue of the nervous system. Sensors of this type are particularly attractive for applications in medicine, as their operation does not require electronic contacts and is not affected by contact with sweat. This opens up opportunities for constant monitoring of the patient's condition without causing any additional discomfort. Looking further ahead, this type of sensor, combined with actuators and electric stimulators, can be expected to form the basis for functional artificial limbs with sensing capabilities.
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