The Institute of Making are involved in an EU-funded project that brings together product designers and material researchers from 9 countries and 17 different organisations to develop a new generation of affordable materials and products that respond to touch with light. 

The team of designers and materials researchers will be working together to combine flexible piezoelectric polymers and organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) in a variety of ways. Piezo materials respond to pressure to produce electricity and OLEDs emit light in response to electric currents, so the end products are likely to combine touch sensitivity with luminosity. Existing ceramic piezo materials are limited by their rigidity and brittle nature but the new polymeric piezo and OLED stacks being developed will be both flexible and formable. They can therefore be seamlessly integrated into products, resulting in entire objects that respond to their user. The consortium will be applying these novel ‘light touch’ materials in care and well-being applications.

As well as developing new materials and novel uses for them, this project is also about developing new methodologies to help designers and materials scientists work together successfully. The Institute of Making are working with technology and innovation researchers (Politecnico di Milano) and design researchers (Brunel University and T.U. Delft) to enhance the dialogue between designers and materials scientists.


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Miodownik, M. and Templeman, E.. Light Touch Matters: The Product Is the Interface. Materials Matters VII Download