Skin-like Sensor: Robots may get Human like Sensitive Skin

Skin-like Sensor: Robots may get Human like Sensitive Skin

23 August 2015 |

Robots do not have look like human but also soon they may get the human like sensitive skin. Researchers say they have developed a skin-like sensor able to detect temperature, pressure and pain simultaneously, and more accurately than currently existing devices.

Human skin is a complex and sensitive system containing multiple receptors. These multiple receptors are able to sense various stimuli such as temperature, pressure, force, corrosion etc, and to feel pains and the shape of objects. The development of skin-like sensors or electronic-skin (e-skin) with the capability of monitoring and sensing stimuli has attracted great attention for various applications. In Robotics, the skin-like sensor has great importance for various applications such as touch detection and health (temperature, pressure, pain, rain) monitoring of robot. In past, Researchers tried to make the skin-like sensing capability using sensors based on the mechanisms of piezoresistivity, capacitance, resistance and switch arrays. Among various mechanisms, the piezoresistive and resistive mechanisms are preferred but they are far from real skin-like sensor.

Researchers from Zhejiang University, China and University of Bolton, UK reported a skin-like sensor in Nature Publication which imitates real skin with multiple receptors, and a new concept of pain sensation. The sensor with very high resolution not only has multiple sensations for touch, pressure, temperature, but also is able to sense various pains and reproduce the three dimensional shape of an object in contact.

This paper focuses on resolving high resolution deformation patterns of a skin-like device and mapping them for different stimuli. It can also reproduce the three dimensional (3D) shape of an object in contact. This sensor replicates most of the receptors existing in human skin, and thus it paves the way for the development of intelligent skin for practical applications.

Skin-like Sensor Fabrication

The skin-like sensor consists of a crisscross conductive network as the receptors (sensors) and a polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) surface layer as the dermis. The conductive network was made from multiwall carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) and PDMS composite. The processing flow for device fabrication is shown in fig and for detail refer device fabrication section in paper.

skin-like sensor
Figure . (a) Fabrication process for the E-skin. (b) A schematic diagram of the skin-like sensor. (c) a photo of the fabricated senor on a hand. (d,e) SEM images of the PDMS/MWCNTs networks and the cross section of a conductive line. (f) A measurement scheme used to map the variation of resistance. (g) A photo of the sensor under test using three probes. The mid probe was used to press the conductive line, while the other two were used to measure the resistance change, and (h) is the reproduced color mapping of resistance change, hence the deformation induced by the probe tip. The color of the unit is shown in the scale bar on the right of the color map, red color present the larger change of the resistance, the resistance change in the blue area is smaller. (Image: Nature/Paper)

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