The development of electronic skin is certainly an important part of future prosthetic devices. To make a high quality artificial skin, one would have to make a very flexible system seeded with many sensors, all wired somehow to a central core where the data can be interpreted. This requires pretty impressive material design skill, but researchers at the Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research Dresden, Chemnitz University of Technology, both in Germany, and Osaka University in Japan, have now managed to develop a way of integrating electronic components, that are all based on organic thin-film transistors, into a highly flexible and rugged material with sensing capabilities. Hopefully this will help to spur the development of medical devices that have been waiting for high density flexible sensor platforms to make them possible.
The new skin-like material has magnetic sensors and organic circuits to operate them. The team created an array of magnetic sensors, connected to an organic bootstrap shift register, as well as organic signal amplifiers. The system was tested to detect the local magnetic field with high accuracy and in real-time while being bent, strained, and manipulated in various ways.
“Our first integrated magnetic functionalities prove that thin-film flexible magnetic sensors can be integrated within complex organic circuits,” said Prof. Dr. Oliver G. Schmidt, Director at the Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research Dresden and Dr. Daniil Karnaushenko, in a published statement. “The ultra-compliant and flexible nature of these devices is an indispensable feature for modern and future applications such as soft-robotics, implants and prosthetics. The next step is to increase the number of sensors per surface area as well as to expand the electronic skin to fit larger surfaces.”
Study in Science Advances: Imperceptible magnetic sensor matrix system integrated with organic driver and amplifier circuits