Quantum tunnelling composite

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Quantum tunnelling composites (or QTCs) are composite materials of metals and non-conducting elastomeric binder, used as pressure sensors. They utilise quantum tunnelling: without pressure, the conductive elements are too far apart to conduct electricity; when pressure is applied, they move closer and electrons can tunnel through the insulator. The effect is far more pronounced than would be expected from classical (non-quantum) effects alone, as classical electrical resistance is linear (proportional to distance), while quantum tunnelling is exponential with decreasing distance, allowing the resistance to change by a factor of up to 1012 between pressured and unpressured states.[1]


QTC has been implemented within clothing to make “smart”, touchable membrane control panels to control electronic devices within the clothing, e.g. mp3 players or mobile phones. This allows equipment to be operated without removing clothing layers or opening fastenings and makes standard equipment usable in extreme weather or environmental conditions such as Arctic/Antarctic exploration or spacesuits. Currently, there is restricted use of QTC due to its high cost, but eventually this technology will become available to the general user.

In February 2008 the newly formed company QIO Systems Inc[2] gained in a deal with Peratech the worldwide exclusive license to the intellectual property and design rights for the electronics and textile touchpads based on QTC technology[3] and for the manufacture and sale of ElekTex (QTC-based) textile touchpads for use in both consumer and commercial applications.[4]


QTCs were discovered in 1997, and PeraTech Ltd was established to investigate them further.[5]