A team of Japanese scientists have created an ultra-light weight polymer skin, complete with electronic sensors, that could help develop new medical implants and smart skin for prostheses and robots. “This technology will lead to biomedical sensors that cause no discomfort at all to the wearer,” said Takao Someya, a materials scientist at the University of Tokyo. “They could measure body temperature and heart rate in a stress-free way, and their shock-resistance means they will work even during sport and exercise.” The plastic-based circuitry is lighter than a feather and less than one micron thick.
What’s the Big Idea?
Besides the sizable achievement of combining electronic sensors with ultra-thin material, the ability of the new polymer to stretch greatly increases its range of future applications. “The sensors, which have the consistency of plastic food wrap, can be bent, stretched, crumpled and placed in wet environments without affecting their ability to operate – key characteristics of artificial skin designed to sense touch or temperature.” Someya reported that the the electric and mechanical performance of the new bionic skin was practically unchanged even when stretched by up to 233 percent.
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