A team of researchers from the University of Houston 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.
The work, reported in the journal Science Advances, describes a new mechanism for producing stretchable electronics, a process that relies upon readily available materials and could be scaled up for commercial production.
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 work is the first semiconductor in rubber composite format that enables stretchability without any special mechanical structure, Yu said.
He 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, he said.
“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 American Sign Language.
“The robotic skin can translate the gesture to readable letters that a person like me can understand and read,” Yu said.
The artificial skin is just one application. Researchers said the discovery of a material that is soft, bendable, stretchable and twistable will impact future development in soft wearable electronics, including health monitors, medical implants and human-machine interfaces.
The stretchable composite semiconductor was prepared by using a silicon-based polymer known as polydimethylsiloxane, or PDMS, and tiny nanowires to create a solution that hardened into a material which used the nanowires to transport electric current.
“We foresee that this strategy of enabling elastomeric semiconductors by percolating semiconductor nanofibrils into a rubber will advance the development of stretchable semiconductors, and … will move forward the advancement of stretchable electronics for a wide range of applications, such as artificial skins, biomedical implants and surgical gloves,” they wrote.
RT @LasAmericasMS: TY @bcmhouston medical Stu 4helping our Ss understand Germs &Hygiene. Learning in a new environment &understanding germ…
10.26, 6-8 pm: Join @MethodistHosp The Woodlands Hospital for a celebration of women’s health & wellness. Register: https://t.co/3syW4qVpnN
Dr. Janet Malek says increased acceptance of gender nonconformity is raising awareness of intersex issues. https://t.co/svkMN2fdS5
Join Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital for Positively Pink, a celebration of women’s health & wellness. This free event will be held at Big Sky Barn off ...
MD Anderson Cancer CenterMDAnderson
Cancer doesn't care what kind of boots you wear. Join us at MD Anderson Boot Walk to End Cancer on Saturday, Nov. 11 and help give cancer the boot. Register to...
@VERONICAGODOY04 Safe travels. Let us know if you need anything while you're here.
RT @SurenaMatinMD: Congratulations @ChapinMD for your determination and vision in making this happen #endcancer @MDAndersonNews #ProstateCa…
Tweet #HR4HR to help donate to hurricane relief efforts during the MLB Postseason. https://t.co/291XEy7DqE
Find out which #vaccinations cancer patients receiving treatment may need and when it’s best to get them.… https://t.co/7XCJpeJTlg
Retired Army Veteran saw service as an opportunity for education https://t.co/CJjuYulcuB via @bgdailynews
"Not smoking, watching your weight and continuing to learn new things could help you live longer" https://t.co/T79Uuy786i
RT @McGovernMed: In this week's Study Break, Dean Stoll speaks on team science: https://t.co/PLwJfj4YEG https://t.co/ct46wDXsgc
RT @McGovernMed: UTHealth, Adult Protective Services join forces to improve lives of Texas elderly https://t.co/QTm8Qhs259
RT @McGovernMed: Congratulations Dr. Gerard Francisco, elected to #NAM https://t.co/66e3lWXzhQ https://t.co/LaSwcmeYPw