Quantum physics used to enhance touchscreens

A Yorkshire company has successfully employed a quantum physics trick to create pressure-sensitive touchscreen technology that it's managed to license to Samsung and Japanese touchscreen manufacturer Nissha.

The breakthrough uses spiky conducting nanoparticles that are embedded in an insulating material. However, as the particles get closer together, the probability that they can pass a charge to each other increases - a phenomenon known as Quantum Tunnelling. That results in the current passing through the material increasing as it's pressed down.

The upshot of all that is that the phone can tell how hard you're pressing the touchscreen - so it could scroll faster if you push harder on the "down" arrow, for example. The switches can be made as thin as a human hair. Samsung has already integrated the technology into the nav button on some smartphones.

Peratech is also investigating the applications of the technology in robotics - allowing robots to touch, and be touched. The entire surface of the robot - like a human - could even be touch-sensitive. The robo-porn industry will have a field day with that one...