At the University of Glasgow in Scotland, researchers have developed a way of creating touch sensitive artificial skin that, as an added bonus, is also photovoltaic and therefore self-powered. This is a surprising development, as prosthetics typically consume a lot of energy and are always powered by an external source such as a battery. Besides helping to reduce the drain on the battery, self-powered components can help simplify the design of a system and make it more modular.
The achievement is made possible by building the pressure sensors so they only consume 20 nanowatts of electricity per square centimeter and then generating that from incident light. The pressure sensors are made of graphene, the 2D material that’s just a sheet of carbon only one atom thick. It is kept transparent so that photovoltaic cells below the graphene sensors can absorb light from the environment.
The pressure sensors are extremely sensitive, detecting touches as gentle as 0.11 kPa, and they produce more than enough power for themselves, prompting the researchers to now work on having them feed excess energy to a battery.
Here’s video demonstrating the sensitivity of the new electronic skin:
Study in Advanced Functional Materials: Energy-Autonomous, Flexible, and Transparent Tactile Skin…