A team of researchers from the College of Engineering at the University of Houston (USA) has revealed a breakthrough in extensible electronics thanks to a new artificial skin that allows a robotic hand to perceive the difference between cold and heat, which , in turn, could serve for a wide range of biomedical devices for human beings.

The work, published in the journal Science Advances, describes a new mechanism to generate electronic elastic, a process that depends on simple materials – easy to get – and which could be expanded to commercial production.

This work is the first to create a semiconductor in a format of rubber compound, designed to allow electronic components can retain functionality, even after the material is stretch up to 50%.

Toward Electronics Elastic 

“It is the first semiconductor in format of rubber compound that allows stretch without any structure special mechanical, clarifies Cunjiang Yu, leader of the work.

Yu states that traditional semiconductors are quite fragile and their use in materials that have the stretching capacity has required a complicated system of mechanical accommodations. Definitely a more complex and less stable process (also more expensive) than this new sensitive electronic skin.

“Our strategy has advantages for simple, scalable manufacturing, with high-density integration, tolerance to large and low-cost deformations,” Yu said .

Yu and the rest of researchers, Hae-Jin Kim, Kyoseung Sim and Anish Thukral, created the electronic skin and used it to show that a robotic hand could feel both the temperature of the hot water and the icy water in a cup.

Compound Semiconductor Pad 

“The skin robotics can translate the gesture to readable letters that a person such as i can understand and read,” Yu said.

Artificial skin is just one application. The researchers believe that the discovery of a material such as this that is both soft, flexible, which can stretch and with capacity for the torque or rotation, will affect the future development of the mobile electronics, including monitors of health, medical implants and man-machine interfaces.

The compound semiconductor pad was prepared using a polymer based on silicon known as polydimethylsiloxane, or PDMS, and tiny nanofuegos to create a solution that was tightened in a material that used the nanowires to carry electrical current.

“We anticipate that this elastic compound semiconductor strategy will enable the development advancement of Stretchable semiconductors, and improve the extensible electronics for a wide range of applications, such as artificial skins, implants.” “Biomedics and Surgical gloves”, the investigators are sentenced to the journal Science advances.