A team of engineers at
According to Physorg, the new electronic skin, or e-skin, responds to touch by instantly lighting up. The more intense the pressure, the brighter the light it emits.
"We are not just making devices; we are building systems," said Javey. "With the interactive e-skin, we have demonstrated an elegant system on plastic that can be wrapped around different objects to enable a new form of human-machine interfacing.
This latest e-skin, described in a paper published in the journal Nature Materials, builds on Javey's earlier work using semiconductor nanowire transistors layered on top of thin rubber sheets.
In addition to giving robots a finer sense of touch, the engineers believe the new e-skin technology could also be used to create things like wallpapers that double as touchscreen displays and dashboard laminates that allow drivers to adjust electronic controls with the wave of a hand.
"I could also imagine an e-skin bandage applied to an arm as a health monitor that continuously checks blood pressure and pulse rates," said study co-lead author
The experimental samples of the latest e-skin measure 16-by-16 pixels. Within each pixel sits a transistor, an organic LED and a pressure sensor.
"Integrating sensors into a network is not new, but converting the data obtained into something interactive is the breakthrough," said Wang, who is now an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at
Javey said the electronic components are all vertically integrated, which is a fairly sophisticated system to put onto a relatively cheap piece of plastic.
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