Flexible electronic ‘skin’ may lend robots a sense of touch

PTI |   Sep 14,2017 , 11:03 PM IST

Flexible electronic ‘skin’ may lend robots a sense of touch
Flexible electronic ‘skin’ may lend robots a sense of touch

Houston : Scientists have developed a soft, flexible artificial skin integrated with stretchable electronics that could allow robots to have a sense of touch. Researchers from University of Houston in the US developed a new mechanism for producing stretchable electronics, a process that relies upon readily available materials and could be scaled up for commercial production. 

They created the stretchable composite semiconductor using a silicon-based polymer known as polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) and tiny nanowires to create a solution that hardened into a material which used the nanowires to transport electric current. 
Traditional semiconductors are brittle and using them in otherwise stretchable materials has required a complicated system of mechanical accommodations.

 That is more complex and less stable than the new discovery, as well as more expensive. Researchers created the electronic skin and used it to demonstrate that a robotic hand could sense the temperature of hot and iced water in a cup. The skin also was able to interpret computer signals sent to the hand and reproduce the signals as American Sign Language, they said. 

Artificial skin is just one application, the discovery of a material that is soft, bendable, stretchable and twistable will impact future development in soft wearable electronics, including health monitors, medical implants and human-machine interfaces, researchers said. 

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