Self-healable, recyclable "electronic skin" developed by University of Colorado Boulder Researchers


It's built around a covalently bonded dynamic network polymer, known as polyimine, laced with silver nanoparticles to provide better conductivity and mechanical strength.

We may be one step closer to giving this essential sense of touch to machines, thanks to efforts from the University of Boulder to create a malleable "electronic skin", which is also able to self-heal if it's damaged.

Scientists at the University Of Colorado Boulder in the United States have managed to create a new material that is capable of healing itself when it is damaged and can even be recycled to make a new skin.

"Given the millions of tons of electronic waste generated worldwide every year, the recyclability of our e-skin makes good economic and environmental sense".

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.

Boulder's researchers have fitted the e-skin with sensors embedded to measure pressure, temperature, humidity and air flow.

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Associate Professor Wei Zhang said while many people are familiar with The Terminator, the classic 1980s movie, the new process was not almost as dramatic - although he added that in the future, the tech could be used to give robots "skin" much like Arnold Schwarzenegger's iconic character.

The techonology, dubbed "e-skin" has been designed by University of Colorado Boulder researchers in a development reminiscent of science fiction classics.

"While the new procedure isn't so sensational, the recuperating of a cut or broken e-skin, including the sensors, is finished by utilizing a blend of three monetarily accessible mixes in ethanol".

The e-skin consists of three commercially available compounds that are mixed together in matrix and intertwined with silver nanoparticles.

"All things considered, you would coordinate e-skin on the robot fingers that can feel the weight of the infant". If e-skin suffers major damage that can't be self-repaired, it can be soaked in a solution that "liquefies" it so that the materials can be reused to make new e-skin. I'm told by co-author of the study Jianliang Xiao that this process usually takes less than half an hour at room temperature, but can be reduced at slightly higher temperatures.

The healing happens even faster: Within 30 minutes at room temperature, or within a few minutes at 60 degrees Celsius, according to Assoc Prof Xiao. The material can be recycled easily.