Help for future burn victims? Electronic ‘replacement skin’ can feel touch and temperature

The challenge for electronic skin, being developed for use in artificial skins or humanlike robots like the humanoids, is to make it feel the temperatures and movements like how human skin feels them as much as possible. So far, there are electronic skins that can detect movement or temperature separately, but none are able to recognize both simultaneously like the human skin.

[A new] artificial receptor with a simple electrode-electrolyte-electrode structure has great commercialization potential and accurately measures the temperature of the object applied as well as the direction or strain profile upon external stimuli such as squeezing, pinching, spreading and twisting.

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“When an index finger touches an electronic skin, the electronic skin detects contact as a temperature change, and when a finger pushes the skin, the back part of the contact area stretches and recognizes it as movement,” explained Dr. Insang You.

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“This study is the first step in opening the door for multimodal electronic skin research using electrolytes,” remarked Professor Unyong Jeong of POSTECH and the corresponding author. “The ultimate goal of this research is to create artificial ion-electronic skin that simulates human tactile receptors and neurotransmitters, which will help restore the sense of touch in patients who have lost their tactile sensation due to illness or accidents.”

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