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Home > Press > New 'electronic skin' for prosthetics, robotics detects pressure from different directions

A new kind of stretchy "electronic skin" (blue patch) is the first to be able to detect directional pressure.
Credit: American Chemical Society
A new kind of stretchy "electronic skin" (blue patch) is the first to be able to detect directional pressure.

Credit: American Chemical Society

Abstract:
Touch can be a subtle sense, but it communicates quickly whether something in our hands is slipping, for example, so we can tighten our grip. For the first time, scientists report the development of a stretchable "electronic skin" closely modeled after our own that can detect not just pressure, but also what direction it's coming from. The study on the advance, which could have applications for prosthetics and robotics, appears in the journal ACS Nano.

New 'electronic skin' for prosthetics, robotics detects pressure from different directions

Washington, DC | Posted on December 10th, 2014

Hyunhyub Ko and colleagues explain that electronic skins are flexible, film-like devices designed to detect pressure, read brain activity, monitor heart rate or perform other functions. To boost sensitivity to touch, some of them mimic microstructures found in beetles and dragonflies, for example, but none reported so far can sense the direction of stress. This is the kind of information that can tell our bodies a lot about the shape and texture of an object and how to hold it. Ko's team decided to work on an electronic skin based on the structure of our own so it could "feel" in three dimensions.

The researchers designed a wearable artificial skin made out of tiny domes that interlock and deform when poked or even when air is blown across it. It could sense the location, intensity and direction of pokes, air flows and vibrations. The scientists conclude that their advance could potentially be used for prosthetic limbs, robotic skins and rehabilitation devices.

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About American Chemical Society
The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 163,000 members, ACS is the world's largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

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Contacts:
Michael Bernstein

202-872-6042

Xuhong Guo, Ph.D.
State Key Laboratory of Chemical Engineering
East China University of Science and Technology
Shanghai
and Key Laboratory of Materials-Oriented Chemical Engineering of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Shihezi University
Xinjiang
China

or
Kaimin Chen, Ph.D.
College of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering
Shanghai University of Engineering Science
Shanghai
China

or
Yanfeng Gao, Ph.D.
Shanghai Institute of Ceramics
and the School of Materials Science and Engineering
Shanghai University
Shanghai
China

Copyright © American Chemical Society

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