Researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder have developed an “electronic skin” that is able to heal itself when damaged, and when no longer needed it can be fully recycled. E-skins can provide new capabilities in the form of medical and athletic devices, as well as mimic tactile and other sensing within advanced prostheses.
The new self-healing e-skin can measure pressure applied on its surface, temperature, humidity, and even air flow. It’s made of polyimine, a newly developed covalently bonded dynamic network polymer that has silver nanoparticles throughout. The silver acts as an electrical conduit, but also strengthens the material and provides chemical stability.
The material is recycled by being broken down with a special solution, turning polymers into oligomers and monomers that are alcohol soluble. The silver nanoparticles, being freed from the polyimine, simply drop down to the bottom of the recycling solution.
“What is unique here is that the chemical bonding of polyimine we use allows the e-skin to be both self-healing and fully recyclable at room temperature,” said Jianliang Xiao, the research team leader. “Given the millions of tons of electronic waste generated worldwide every year, the recyclability of our e-skin makes good economic and environmental sense.”
Via: CU Boulder…