Solar-powered Synthetic Skin With Touch Sensitivity May Revolutionize Prosthetic Limbs
By Matthew Reitman / March 23, 2017 9:36 am
(University of Glasgow)


The world just got a little closer to the prospect of bionic humans.

Developed for prosthetic limbs, engineers have created a synthetic skin that delivers the sensation of touch while being powering by solar energy.

Researchers had previously developed an “electronic skin” covering for prosthetics, but it required enough energy that it needed its own power source—but using solar power will eliminate that problem.

This type of synthetic skin will help develop prosthetic limbs that are more sensitive to touch, temperature, and texture.

A team of engineers from the University of Glasgow used graphene to achieve the remarkable innovation, reports. A flexible form of graphite, graphene is extremely thin (1 million times thinner than paper), durable, conductive, and 98% transparent.

Dr. Ravinder Dahiya told the BBC that it brings prosthetics closer to the weight of the limbs they replace. “This, from a prosthetic point of view, leads to a skin that lets an amputee feel plus, without any additional battery, the prosthetic limb will be lighter.”It could also give robots a better idea of what they interact with, he said.

The findings were published in Advanced Functional Materials on Thursday.