Nanotechnology Now





Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > Stanford researchers build transparent, super-stretchy skin-like sensor

A close-up view of the super-stretchy, transparent, highly sensitive skin-like sensor that Zhenan Bao, associate professor of chemical engineering, and Darren Lipomi, postdoctoral researcher in chemical engineering, developed at Stanford University with their colleagues.

Credit: Steve Fyffe, Stanford News Service
A close-up view of the super-stretchy, transparent, highly sensitive skin-like sensor that Zhenan Bao, associate professor of chemical engineering, and Darren Lipomi, postdoctoral researcher in chemical engineering, developed at Stanford University with their colleagues.

Credit: Steve Fyffe, Stanford News Service

Abstract:
Imagine having skin so supple you could stretch it out to more than twice its normal length in any direction - repeatedly - yet it would always snap back completely wrinkle-free when you let go of it. You would certainly never need Botox.

Stanford researchers build transparent, super-stretchy skin-like sensor

Stanford, CA | Posted on October 24th, 2011

That enviable elasticity is one of several new features built into a new transparent skin-like pressure sensor that is the latest sensor developed by Stanford's Zhenan Bao, associate professor of chemical engineering, in her quest to create an artificial "super skin." The sensor uses a transparent film of single-walled carbon nanotubes that act as tiny springs, enabling the sensor to accurately measure the force on it, whether it's being pulled like taffy or squeezed like a sponge.

"This sensor can register pressure ranging from a firm pinch between your thumb and forefinger to twice the pressure exerted by an elephant standing on one foot," said Darren Lipomi, a postdoctoral researcher in Bao's lab, who is part of the research team.

"None of it causes any permanent deformation," he said.

Lipomi and Michael Vosgueritchian, graduate student in chemical engineering, and Benjamin Tee, graduate student in electrical engineering, are the lead authors of a paper describing the sensor published online Oct. 23 by Nature Nanotechnology. Bao is a coauthor of the paper.

The sensors could be used in making touch-sensitive prosthetic limbs or robots, for various medical applications such as pressure-sensitive bandages or in touch screens on computers.

The key element of the new sensor is the transparent film of carbon "nano-springs," which is created by spraying nanotubes in a liquid suspension onto a thin layer of silicone, which is then stretched.

When the nanotubes are airbrushed onto the silicone, they tend to land in randomly oriented little clumps. When the silicone is stretched, some of the "nano-bundles" get pulled into alignment in the direction of the stretching.

When the silicone is released, it rebounds back to its original dimensions, but the nanotubes buckle and form little nanostructures that look like springs.

"After we have done this kind of pre-stretching to the nanotubes, they behave like springs and can be stretched again and again, without any permanent change in shape," Bao said.

Stretching the nanotube-coated silicone a second time, in the direction perpendicular to the first direction, causes some of the other nanotube bundles to align in the second direction. That makes the sensor completely stretchable in all directions, with total rebounding afterward.

Additionally, after the initial stretching to produce the "nano-springs," repeated stretching below the length of the initial stretch does not change the electrical conductivity significantly, Bao said. Maintaining the same conductivity in both the stretched and unstretched forms is important because the sensors detect and measure the force being applied to them through these spring-like nanostructures, which serve as electrodes.

The sensors consist of two layers of the nanotube-coated silicone, oriented so that the coatings are face-to-face, with a layer of a more easily deformed type of silicone between them.

The middle layer of silicone stores electrical charge, much like a battery. When pressure is exerted on the sensor, the middle layer of silicone compresses, which alters the amount of electrical charge it can store. That change is detected by the two films of carbon nanotubes, which act like the positive and negative terminals on a typical automobile or flashlight battery.

The change sensed by the nanotube films is what enables the sensor to transmit what it is "feeling."

Whether the sensor is being compressed or extended, the two nanofilms are brought closer together, which seems like it might make it difficult to detect which type of deformation is happening. But Lipomi said it should be possible to detect the difference by the pattern of pressure.

With compression, you would expect to see sort of a bull's-eye pattern, with the greatest deformation at the center and decreasing deformation as you go farther from the center.

"If the device was gripped by two opposing pincers and stretched, the greatest deformation would be along the straight line between the two pincers," Lipomi said. Deformation would decrease as you moved farther away from the line.

Bao's research group previously created a sensor so sensitive to pressure that it could detect pressures "well below the pressure exerted by a 20 milligram bluebottle fly carcass" that the researchers tested it with. This latest sensor is not quite that sensitive, she said, but that is because the researchers were focused on making it stretchable and transparent.

"We did not spend very much time trying to optimize the sensitivity aspect on this sensor," Bao said.

"But the previous concept can be applied here. We just need to make some modifications to the surface of the electrode so that we can have that same sensitivity."

Lipomi, Vosgueritchian and Tee contributed equally to the research and are co-primary authors of the Nature Nanotechnology paper. Sondra Hellstrom, a graduate student in applied physics; Jennifer Lee, an undergraduate in chemical engineering; and Courtney Fox, a graduate student in chemical engineering, also contributed to the research and are co-authors of the paper.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Louis Bergeron

650-725-1944

Copyright © Stanford University

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related Links

Video - Nanotube Springs in Super-stretchy Skin-like Sensor

Related News Press

News and information

Conversion of Greenhouse Gases to Syngas in Presence of Nanocatalysts in Iran May 22nd, 2015

New Antibacterial Wound Dressing in Iran Can Display Replacement Time May 22nd, 2015

Haydale Named Lead Sponsor for Cambridge Graphene Festival May 22nd, 2015

Simulations predict flat liquid May 21st, 2015

Nanotubes/Buckyballs/Fullerenes

Researchers develop new way to manufacture nanofibers May 21st, 2015

Sandia researchers first to measure thermoelectric behavior by 'Tinkertoy' materials May 20th, 2015

Cotton fibres instead of carbon nanotubes May 9th, 2015

A better way to build DNA scaffolds: McGill researchers devise new technique to produce long, custom-designed DNA strands May 6th, 2015

Sensors

Record high sensitive Graphene Hall sensors May 21st, 2015

Graphene enables tunable microwave antenna May 15th, 2015

Janusz Bryzek Joins MEMS Industry Group to Lead New TSensors Division - New Division will Focus on Accelerating Development of Emerging Ultra-high Volume Sensors Supporting Abundance, mHealth and IoT May 14th, 2015

Nano-policing pollution May 13th, 2015

Discoveries

Conversion of Greenhouse Gases to Syngas in Presence of Nanocatalysts in Iran May 22nd, 2015

New Antibacterial Wound Dressing in Iran Can Display Replacement Time May 22nd, 2015

Nanotherapy effective in mice with multiple myeloma May 21st, 2015

Turn that defect upside down: Twin boundaries in lithium-ion batteries May 21st, 2015

Announcements

Conversion of Greenhouse Gases to Syngas in Presence of Nanocatalysts in Iran May 22nd, 2015

New Antibacterial Wound Dressing in Iran Can Display Replacement Time May 22nd, 2015

Haydale Named Lead Sponsor for Cambridge Graphene Festival May 22nd, 2015

INSIDDE: Uncovering the real history of art using a graphene scanner May 21st, 2015

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More










ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project