Latest in Gear

Image credit: Jianliang Xiao/University of Colorado Boulder

Rugged e-skin can heal its cuts and scrapes

It helps you feel temperature and pressure, but it can also take damage.
472 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share

Sponsored Links

Jianliang Xiao/University of Colorado Boulder

Scientists dream of prosthetics and robots with electronic skin that can convey heat and pressure just like the real thing, but there's a big problem getting in the way: the outside world. Bumps and scrapes can damage these sensors, and it's not really practical to toss these skins in the trash when they're no longer useful. UC Boulder researchers hope to fix that. They've developed an e-skin that can communicate temperature and pressure, but is both self-healing and fully recyclable. You could take a cut on a synthetic arm without panicking, and reuse any damaged 'tissue' to make replacements.

The trick is the use of a unique polymer (polyimine) laced with silver nanoparticles. It can still conduct electricity and withstand stress, but its covalent atomic bonds make it both self-healing and recyclable at room temperatures. It just has to use widely available ethanol compounds to patch itself up, and you can degrade the polymers using a recycling solution that separates the silver from the skin in question.

Any practical uses are a long way off, but they're definitely on the horizon. You can easily use a modest amount of heat and pressure to make the skin wrap around curved surfaces, so it's ideal for smart prosthetics or advanced robots that may need both ruggedness and a delicate grip. All told, e-skin is becoming more of a practical reality outside of the lab.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Comment
Comments
Share
472 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share

Popular on Engadget

SpaceX hopes to offer satellite internet to customers by mid-2020

SpaceX hopes to offer satellite internet to customers by mid-2020

View
'NBA Now' game offers a quick basketball fix on your phone

'NBA Now' game offers a quick basketball fix on your phone

View
Google Home update leaves some speakers unusable

Google Home update leaves some speakers unusable

View
BYU researchers extend WiFi range by 200 feet with a software upgrade

BYU researchers extend WiFi range by 200 feet with a software upgrade

View
Apple TV+ adaptation of 'Foundation' will star Jared Harris and Lee Pace

Apple TV+ adaptation of 'Foundation' will star Jared Harris and Lee Pace

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr