Flexible 'e-skin' can heal itself

Terminator e-skin

Terminator e-skin

Coming from a team led by Jianliang Xiao of the university's Mechanical Engineering wing, the new e-skin makes use of a special polymer called a polyimine that's been doped with silver nanoparticles to improve mechanical strength, chemical stability and electrical conductivity. Here, future robots would be capable of feeling with the E-skin like humans do with the organic skin.

Consisting of a translucent thin band, the electronic skin (abbreviated E-skin) tries to mimic numerous human skin's properties and functionalities and can be used in a wide range of applications. Because of the reversible bond formation of the material, the electronic skin can also be fully recycled by soaking in a solution.

Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder have developed a new type of electronic skin that is malleable and recyclable, and which can self-heal after sustaining damage.

The researchers say that the e-skin has various applications, from prosthetics to biomedicine.

The e-skin is made out of thin, semi-transparent material.

Discussing application of skin in robotics, Wei Zhang from the University of Colorado Boulder said, "Let's say you wanted a robot to take care of a baby".


The idea for e-skin has been around since 2011, but this is the first version that can be reused, reducing waste and lessening manufacturing costs.

Another remarkable property of the electronic skin is its ability to heal itself albeit the process involved is not as remarkable as that seen in the robots featured in the movie Terminator.

An extra favorable position of the novel CU Boulder e-skin is that it can be effortlessly fit in with bended surfaces like human arms and automated hands by giving medium warmth and weight to it without presentation of surplus burdens.

Xiao said, "The recycled solution and nanoparticles can then be used to make new, functional e-skin." .

Unlike other forms of e-skin, and unlike the Terminator, this isn't created to be worn by people, but it does have a number of potential uses in robotics and prosthetics. According to Newsweek, he is dreaming of a future where people will simply soak any electronic device (including laptops, cellphones, tablets) in a solution which would dissolve the materials in order for them to be used again.

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