Despite advances in prosthetic technology, there has been little progress in the creation of an innovations that can replicate the sense of touch.
Until now, that is. According to a new study at Stanford, engineers have created a plastic “skin,” that replicates the sense of touch by sending an electrical signal to the brain.
Lead researcher, Zhenan Bao spent ten years working on a skin replica that responds to pressure, temperature change, and can flex and heal.
The plastic is comprised of two layers, the upper layer contains the sensing mechanism, and the lower one acts as the electronic circuit that transports signals to the brain
The plastic is made of a thin, springy plastic polymer, and is very sensitive to any amount of compression.
The artificial skin is structured in a waffle matrix which contains billions of carbon structures called nanotubes which are compressed within the plastic.
The nanotubes are 5 times stronger than steel or Kevlar, they conduct heat more than 10 times more efficiently than copper, and conduct electricity just as efficiently.
Their research was recently published in Science Magazine.
Imagine that, a synthetic skin that can be used for burn victims and robots alike.