Artificial Skin Gives Robotic Hand a Sense of Touch

A research team from the University of Houston reported a great innovation in the field of stretchable electronics, they designed a new form of electronic artificial skin which will allow the robotic hand to sense the temperature differences between hot and cold, further offers advantages for a wide array of biomedical devices. The electronic skin is also capable of interpreting computer signals and helps the hand to reproduce the signals as American sign language. The work is reported in the journal, Science Advances.

In this novel development, a semiconductor is created in a rubber composite format which enables stretchability, without the electronic components losing their function. This composite stretchable semiconductor is made up of Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS- a silicon-based polymer) and tiny nanowires. These semiconductors are more stable, less complicated and less expensive than the traditional semiconductors. The application of this electronic artificial skin will have a great impact on wearable electronics such as health monitors, medical implants, and human-machine interfaces.

Cunjiang Yu said, “Our strategy has advantages for simple fabrication, scalable manufacturing, high-density integration, large strain tolerance and low cost and the robotic skin can translate the gesture to readable letters that a person like me can understand and read”.

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