Sensor in artificial skin could sense touch, humidity, temperature

July 9, 2013 at 3:56 PM
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HAIFA, Israel, July 9 (UPI) -- Scientists in Israel say they've developed a flexible sensor that could be integrated into electronic skin to give wearers of prosthetic limbs new senses.

While current versions of e-skin detect only touch, the new sensor using tiny gold particles and a type of resin "can simultaneously sense touch, humidity, and temperature, as real skin can do," research team leader Hossam Haick of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology said.

In addition the new sensor "is at least 10 times more sensitive in touch than the currently existing touch-based e-skin systems," he said in a Technion release Monday.

A flexible sensor useful in the real world would have to run on low voltage to be compatible with the batteries in today's portable devices, measure a wide range of pressures, and make more than one measurement at a time, including humidity, temperature, pressure and the presence of chemicals, the researchers said.

In addition, such sensors would have to be able to be made quickly, easily, and cheaply, they said.

In the Technion sensor, gold nanoparticles are laid on top of a substrate made of PET (flexible polyethylene terephthalate), the same plastic found in soda bottles, and conduct electricity differently in response to how the substrate is bent.

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