No one wants ultra-sensitive skin, especially here and now in the Northern Hemisphere where the summer season creates hot, dry weather. Over at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, however, ultra-sensitive (artificial) skin would be considered a technological breakthrough that could revolutionize everything from prosthetic limbs to mechanical strain sensors. And, thanks to a new, advanced sensor that was developed, ultra-sensitive artificial skin could be one step closer to becoming reality.
The advanced sensor is made of flexible PET (the same plastic used to make soda bottles) and gold nanoparticles. When the gold was laid on top of the PET substrate, researchers found that the combination would conduct electricity differently depending on how it was bent. The result is a sensor that is said to be at least 10 times more sensitive to touch than any currently existing touch-based artificial skin. Moreover, the sensitivity can easily be adjusted by changing the thickness of the substrate, and with some modifications, can detect and monitor environmental temperature and humidity changes as well.
And if this sensor wasn’t advanced enough, it’s also low-voltage and can be produced quickly, easily, and cheaply, making it actually a feasible device.
Because the sensor is flexible, it can be attached to just about any surface, which could make it extremely versatile for future sensors that could monitor strain on bridges and detect cracks in engines. Of course, we envision it someday being utilized in artificial skin for next-generation prosthetic limbs or advanced robots who might enjoy the sunny, summer weather.
Journal abstract from ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces: Tunable Touch Sensor and Combined Sensing Platform: Toward Nanoparticle-based Electronic Skin
Article from the American Technion Society: Breakthrough could lead to “artificial skin” that senses touch, humidity and temperature…
(hat tip: Engadget)