Artificial 'Skin' Gives Robotic Hand a Sense of Touch

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Cunjiang Yu, Bill D. Cook Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Houston, has created a semiconductor in a rubber composite format allowing functionality up to and beyond the material being stretched by 50%. With traditional semiconductors being very brittle and requiring complex systems of mechanical accommodations, the new discovery not only remedies the issue of flexibility, but also is more stable and less expensive. Yu and the rest of the research team were able to create and demonstrate the electronic skin’s ability to distinguish between hot and cold temperatures as well as interpret computer signals and reproduce those signals as American Sign Language. The discovery of a soft, bendable, stretchable material will impact the development of future soft wearable electronics for multiple uses, such as health monitors, medical implants, and human-machine interfaces.

For construction applications, what benefits would a wearable composite semiconductor provide? Are there safety applications to allow workers to safely detect and handle live
electrical currents, or allow for the safe recognition of materials under extreme temperatures?

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