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New artificial skin can let robots 'feel' heat and pressure simultaneously

A team of researchers with Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology and Dong-A University, both in South Korea, has developed an artificial skin that can detect both pressure and heat with a high degree of sensitivity, at the same time.

artificial skin

Credit: Park et al, Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology

In their paper published in the journal Science Advances, the team describes how they created the skin, what they found in testing it and the other types of things it can sense.

Many scientists around the world are working to develop artificial skin, both to benefit robots and human beings who have lost skin sensation or limbs. Such efforts have led to a wide variety of artificial skin types, but until now, none of them have been able to sense both pressure and heat to a high degree, at the same time.

Professor Park and his colleagues have designed ferroelectric films that mimic the grooved, microscopically 'mountainous' structure of human fingertip skin. By adding composites made of a polymer and reduced graphene oxide, the films are able to detect touch and temperature using sensing electric charges.

Read Related: Scientists created a chameleon-inspired stretchable electronic skin with interactive color changing control when touched

The authors tested the e-skin's response to sensory changes created by water droplets and found that the skins can detect water falling at different pressures and temperatures. They also found that the artificial fingertip skin could detect a tiny amount of pressure created by a human hair.

The researchers also demonstrated their e-skin's ability to take someone's heartrate and blood pressure - which can reveal problems like heart disease or high blood pressure - as well as its ability to measure skin temperature.

Because it can separate the temperature from the blood pressure, the researchers said, the e-skin may even provide more accurate readings than traditional medical devices. It's also capable of detecting dynamic touch and vibrations as well as different textures, including sandpaper, glass, and paper.

Video: Smart skin detects heat, pressure and moisture

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