Scientists Use Graphene to Power ‘Electronic Skin’ that Can Feel

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Teams of scientists around the world are currently working to develop flexible versions of synthetic skin that can feel by imitating the various kinds of sensory receptors found in human skin. The purpose of doing so is to further the understanding and development of prosthetic limbs and robots with a sense of touch.

A group of researchers at the University of Glasgow’s School of Engineering in the UK have discovered a way to produce electricity through solar power by using graphene, a very thin carbon form.

Graphene is one atom thick, firm, extremely flexible, electrically conductive, and transparent. This makes it fitting for gathering the energy from the sun to create power.

Specifically, smart prosthetic hands may duplicate multiple of the mechanical properties of human limbs and give them a skin-like sense of touch. This would make them even more useful for amputees, or those whose limbs have been cut off. In addition, touch-sensitive electronic skin could also be used in robots to improve performance and aid the machines in detecting possible dangers when cooperating with humans.

Ravinder Dahiya and his team explained how they added complicated power-generating photovoltaic cells into their electronic skin in the journal,  Advanced Functional Materials.

Their upcoming target is to use the same technology to function the motors needed to drive a prosthetic hand. “This could allow the creation of an entirely energy-autonomous prosthetic limb,” Dahiya said.

 

By Sarah El Sharkawi

 

Sources:

Hirschler, Ben. “Scientists Use Graphene to Power ‘Electronic Skin’ That Can Feel”. Reuters. Mar 23 2017. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-science-skin-idUSKBN16U006

 

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