Scientists have developed a stretchable “electronic skin” closely modeled after human skin that can detect not just the existence of pressure but also the direction of the pressure. The study was published in ACS Nano.
Hyunhyub Ko, PhD, associate professor at the School of Nano-Bioscience and Chemical Enigneering, Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) and colleagues stated in a press release that electronic skins are flexible, film-like devices designed to detect pressure, read brain activity, monitor heart rate or perform other functions. To boost sensitivity to touch, some of them mimic microstructures found in beetles and dragonflies, for example, but none reported so far can sense the direction of stress. This is the kind of information that can tell bodies about the shape and texture of an object and how to hold it. Ko’s team decided to work on an electronic skin based on the structure of human skin so it could “feel” in three dimensions.
The researchers designed a wearable artificial skin made of tiny domes that interlock and deform when poked or even when air is blown across the skin. It could sense the location, intensity and direction of pokes, air flows and vibrations. According to the release, the skin could potentially be used for prosthetic limbs, robotic skins and rehabilitation devices.
For more information:
Ko H. ACS Nano. 2014; doi:10.1021/nn505953t.
Disclosure: See the full study for the authors’ relevant financial disclosures.