Spray-On Electronic Skin Helps Robots Feel

Researchers in South Korea have developed a sensor that can be sprayed onto three-dimensional surfaces to allow robots to sense touch.

AsianScientist (Oct. 1, 2018) – A team of scientists in South Korea has developed a spray-coated sensor to give robotic devices a sense of touch. Their findings are published in ACS Nano.

The design of electronic skin to mimic the tactile sensing properties of human skin is an active area of research for various applications such as wearable electronics, robotics and prosthetics. One of the major challenges in electronic skin research is differentiating various external stimuli, particularly between strain and pressure. Another issue is uniformly depositing electrical skin on three-dimensional (3D), irregularly-shaped objects.

To overcome these issues, a research team led by Professor Steve Park and Professor Kim Jung at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology developed electronic skin that can be uniformly coated on 3D surfaces and is capable of distinguishing mechanical stimuli.

The structure of the electronic skin was designed to respond differently under applied pressure and strain. Under applied strain, conducting pathways undergo significant conformational changes, considerably changing the resistance. On the other hand, under applied pressure, negligible conformational change in the conducting pathway occurs. The electronic skin is therefore non-responsive to pressure.

The research team also spatially mapped the local strain using electrical impedance tomography, which makes it possible to minimize the number of electrodes, increase durability and enable easy application of the arrays onto 3D surfaces.

“Our electronic skin can be mass-produced at a low cost and easily be coated onto complex 3D surfaces. It is a key technology that can bring us closer to the commercialization of electronic skin for various applications in the near future,” said Park.

The article can be found at: Oh et al. (2018) Pressure Insensitive Strain Sensor with Facile Solution-Based Process for Tactile Sensing Applications.


Source: Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology.
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