Researchers Develop Touch-Sensitive Electronics For People With Prosthetic Limbs

Saturday, February 24, 2018 - 09:56

Researchers from Stanford University have set the stage for an evolution in electronics by taking the concept of ‘artificial skin’ to the next level, demonstrating not only a stretchable circuitry that can feel the touch of a ladybug, but a manufacturing process to mass produce this circuitry.

According to the university’s official website, people with prosthetic limbs live in a world without touch. Restoring some semblance of this sensation has been a driving force behind Stanford chemical engineer Zhenan Bao’s decades-long quest to create stretchable, electronically-sensitive synthetic materials.

Now, in a Feb. 19 Nature paper, Bao and her team describe two technical firsts that could bring this 20-year goal to fruition: the creation of a stretchable, polymer circuitry with integrated touch-sensors to detect the delicate footprint of an artificial ladybug.

Bao said their production process involves several layers of new-age polymers, some that provide the material’s elasticity and others with intricately patterned electronic meshes. Still, others serve as insulators to isolate the electronically sensitive material. One step in the production process involves the use of an inkjet printer to, in essence, paint on certain layers.

The team has successfully fashioned its material in squares about two inches on a side containing more than 6,000 individual signal-processing devices that act like synthetic nerve endings. All this is encapsulated in a waterproof protective layer.

This research was supported by Samsung Electronics, the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program, and NETEP and MOTIE of the Republic of Korea.

Opinions


Popular News

Latest News