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Roadmap on Printable Electronic Materials for Next-Generation Sensors

A professor at Simon Fraser University is advancing printable sensor technologies, which is contributing to the creation of a more “sustainable, intelligent world.”

Roadmap on Printable Electronic Materials for Next-Generation Sensors

Image Credit: Sergey Nivens/

Vincenzo Pecunia, from SFU’s School of Sustainable Energy Engineering, led a team of more than 100 experts from 57 research institutions worldwide in developing a comprehensive roadmap for next-generation printable sensor technologies. By paving the way for everyday objects and environments to acquire sensing capabilities, these technologies could be a game changer in advancing sustainability and enhancing the quality of life.

Sensors can help people make better decisions about how they use resources and enhance various areas, including homes, cities, the environment, security, healthcare, and more, by providing real-time data.

There are truly countless ways in which sensors can help us make our life easier and more sustainable. Think, for instance, of sensors that could realize safer medical exams and targeted healthcare, or that could help farmers increase yield, or that could help us reduce food waste through accurate food spoilage detection, or that could detect wildfires early enough to prevent their disastrous consequences.

Vincenzo Pecunia, Professor and Study Lead Author, School of Sustainable Energy Engineering, Simon Fraser University

Pecunia and his international network of collaborators examined 45 printable sensor technologies that react to a wide range of stimuli, including light, radiation, force, temperature, gases, chemicals, and biological materials, in the roadmap.

Pecunia's team has led the way in developing printable optical sensors, which have the potential to be used in many different sustainability-related fields.

The realization of these applications hinges on deploying sensors in significant quantities to generate a critical mass of data. This necessitates the availability of easily manufacturable, low-cost sensor technologies.

Sensors based on printable materials offer an ideal platform, since they can be fabricated from inks using simple methods such as printing and coating in a room-temperature setting, requiring little energy.

Vincenzo Pecunia, Professor and Study Lead Author, School of Sustainable Energy Engineering, Simon Fraser University

On the other hand, most sensors in use today are produced using expensive, carbon-intensive technologies that frequently require temperatures above 1,000 ºC. Pecunia notes that the expense and carbon footprint of these traditional sensors make it impossible to distribute them widely enough to have a significant effect on a large scale.

Pecunia is an advocate of developing domestic printable sensor manufacturing, which would realize the wide range of applications for local communities, circumvent the cumbersome and slow supply chain of conventional electronics, and support the region's clean-tech and high-tech industries.

Even though printable sensor technologies have a lot of potential, Pecunia thinks that to get past the remaining obstacles and realize these technologies' full potential, research in this field must be advanced.

Pecunia concluded, “Through our roadmap, our ultimate goal is to catalyze further research advances in printable sensor technology to bring us closer to a green sensor revolution for the benefit of all.

Journal Reference:

Pecunia, V., et al. (2024) Roadmap on Printable Electronic Materials for Next-Generation Sensors.  The Astrophysical Journal Letters.


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