Robots With The Sense Of Touch

A team of researchers from the University of Houston (UH) has reported a breakthrough in stretchable electronics that can serve as an artificial skin, allowing a robotic hand to sense the difference between hot and cold, while also offering advantages for a wide range of biomedical devices.

Cunjiang Yu, Bill D. Cook Assistant Professor of mechanical engineering and lead author for the paper, said the work is the first to create a semiconductor in a rubber composite format, designed to allow the electronic components to retain functionality even after the material is stretched by 50 percent. The semiconductor in rubber composite format enables stretchability without any special mechanical structure. Yu noted that traditional semiconductors are brittle and using them in otherwise stretchable materials has required a complicated system of mechanical accommodations. “That’s both more complex and less stable than the new discovery, as well as more expensive.”

Our strategy has advantages for simple fabrication, scalable manufacturing, high-density integration, large strain tolerance and low cost,” he said.

Yu and the rest of the team – co-authors include first author Hae-Jin Kim, Kyoseung Sim and Anish Thukral, all with the UH Cullen College of Engineering – created the electronic skin and used it to demonstrate that a robotic hand could sense the temperature of hot and iced water in a cup. The skin also was able to interpret computer signals sent to the hand and reproduce the signals as .

The robotic skin can translate the gesture to readable letters that a person like me can understand and read,” Yu said.

The work is reported in the journal Science Advances.

Source: http://www.uh.edu/

Stretchable Electronics

Sensors and other electronics are usually made of rigid and stiff material such as metals and plastics. They cannot be stretched, twisted or thrown, and should be handled with care. But that is about to change. Researchers from the Institute of Textiles and Clothing at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University have developed a new technology that allows electronics to drape around our body comfortably. Defying our imagination, the researchers have engineered a new fabric that can conduct electricity, paving the way for stretchable electronics.

Principal investigator Prof. Tao explained, “Our new fabric can be stretched like a rubber band and has high sensitivity to strain. We’ve also made another one that can withstand and respond to very high pressure up to 2000kPa. They are water-proof, washable and excellent in resistance to fatigue.”
Source: http://www.polyu.edu.hk