Scientists are working on what is called e-skin, which has implications for not only robotics but prosthetics and augmented reality.
Scientists have managed to create an “electronic skin” that is capable of healing itself and can be totally recycled, which could have major implications for the world of robotics, as well as prosthetics, augmented reality, video games, and more. The findings were published in the journal Science Advances and describe a thin film capable of sensing pressure, temperature, and other things that human skin can feel.
Scientists mixed together three compounds to form a nanoparticles matrix that can be cut in two and then re-bonded by recreating the compound bonds. In addition, the e-skin can be soaked in a solution that will turn it into a liquid, so it can be fully recycled for other uses later on rather than discarded after it is used for one purpose.
It is a tremendous breakthrough that has major implications for robots in the future, but it also could be used to create prosthetics, or smart textiles. Scientists have been experimenting with e-skins around the world, but this new e-skin is one of the most advanced yet created by researchers.
“What is unique here is that the chemical bonding of polyimine we use allows the e-skin to be both self-healing and fully recyclable at room temperature,” said Assistant Professor Jianliang Xiao, who is leading the research effort with CU Boulder chemistry and biochemistry Associate Professor Wei Zhang. “Given the millions of tons of electronic waste generated worldwide every year, the recyclability of our e-skin makes good economic and environmental sense.”