An artificial 'super skin' for androids

Summary: Stanford researchers have developed a stretchable, transparent skin-like sensor that could have applications in prosthetic limbs, robotics, and touch displays.

Credit: Steve Fyffe, Stanford News Service
Credit: Steve Fyffe, Stanford News Service

The wrinkle-smoothing wonder of Botox could some day be a thing of the past.
Stanford researchers have built a new transparent skin-like sensor that can stretch out to more than twice its normal length in any direction and bounce back to its original shape.
The sensor uses a transparent film of single-walled carbon nanotubes that are bent to act as tiny springs. The springs help the sensor to accurately measure almost any force applied on it–from a firm pinch to thousands of pounds.
“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 added.
According to Lipomi and his team, the sensor 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.

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