New Artificial Skin Outperforms Human Sensitivity


| LAST UPDATE 02/20/2023

By Stanley Wickens
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Vacharapong Wongsalab via Getty Images

Scientists have taken robotics to a new level with their invention of artificial skin, which is said to be endowed with superhuman powers! A robot tested using this remarkable material was able to distinguish between materials such as polymers, metals, and human skin…without even touching them. This revolutionary discovery may just change the face of robotics forever!

“The artificial skin is a soft spongy material with ionic liquids inside and electrodes on the surface. The ionic liquids ensure the skin has ultra-high sensitivity. The skin can detect the approaching external objects even before contacting, and classify what type of material it is. In the future, we could also include new capabilities like temperature sensing, texture sensing, etc.,” said Yifan Wang, corresponding author of a research paper published in the journal Small.

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Through a series of experiments, the researchers created an innovative device comprised of two flexible conductive fabrics connected to a porous PDMS (polydimethylsiloxane) sponge that had been immersed in ionic liquid for improved dielectric properties. Not only was fabrication cost-effective and scalable, according to Wang; but also, it proved durable across testing scenarios! The team's research revealed a remarkable discovery - the "dual-responsive" artificial skin is impressively capable of accurately detecting distinct signals from targets even when they are still far away. This revolutionary invention has been implemented for unique applications, such as manipulating virtual game characters and navigating electronic maps or documents with ease.

After extensive study, the groundbreaking innovation was born: a robot that can identify materials without any contact. “The technology can be used for robotic packing, gripping, and classification of products in factories, which are traditionally done by human workers. The research can be further connected to industrial applications such as intelligent robotic systems or prostheses,” added Wang. With its potential applications producing progressive technologies such as human-machine interfaces, prosthetics and augmented reality devices, the research team has created an innovative way to advance humanity's relationship with technology. So, what's next for the team of scientists who have made this new invention possible? Guess we'll just have to wait and find out - be sure to stay tuned for more!

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