Electronic Skin Close To Reality With Self-Healing Sensors

Interesting Engineering

sensor[Image Source: AP Breitbart Jerusalem]

Remember all those science fiction movies that showed cyborgs capable of self-repairing their skin? Remember how impossible that seemed? Well, it now appears that self-healing electronic skin is closer to reality than ever.

The ability of a human body to heal itself is undeniably amazing. Synthetic materials are lacking in this capacity, until now. Flexible sensors have shown up in every industry recently. One problem with them, however, is that they can be easily scratched and torn, potentially destroying their ability to function. Researchers in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, who were inspired by the healing properties of human skin, have developed healing sensors that can self-repair scratches or cuts.  The discovery uses a synthetic polymer which contains self-healing properties that mimic human skin. This means that electronic skin wounds can heal themselves in a short amount of time. It is capable of healing itself in just one day.

According to co-developer Professor Hossam Haick:

“The vulnerability of flexible sensors used in real-world applications calls for the development of self-healing properties similar to how human skins heals. Accordingly, we have developed a complete, self-healing device in the form of a bendable and stretchable chemiresistor where every part – no matter where the device is cut or scratched – is self-healing." ~ ATS

SEE ALSO: New Ultra-thin e-skin that can Turn your Skin into a Digital Display

adma201504104-fig-0001[Image Source: Advanced Materials]

The new sensor contains a self-healing substrate, high conductivity jelly-like electrodes, and modified gold nanoparticles. The gold particles have been modified at the molecular level and are responsible for healing the cracks on top of the substrate and between the electrodes. Temperatures between 0°C and 10°C are most favorable for the healing sensor. This is because moisture condenses in this zone and is then absorbed by the substrate. After healing, it can survive 20 times or more cutting and healing cycles and exhibits high sensitivity to touch, pressure and strain. Just like a scar, the sensor is stronger after it has healed itself. Additionally, once healed, it also demonstrates superior healability at extreme temperatures of -20°C to 40°C. This means that the healing sensors could potentially be used in environments that have extreme temperatures.

Researchers believe their discovery could lead to viable electronic skin and material used on prosthetic limbs that allows wearers to sense their environments.

Why do I feel that we'll see this skin appear on fembots like ScarJo and JiaJia before appearing on real humans? Just a hunch.

The entire study was first published here.

Article written by Leah Stephens. She is a writer, artist, and experimenter. You can follow her on Twitter or Medium.

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