Artificial Skin Could Benefit Humans (and Robots)
What are the odds that an organ as complex as the human skin could be replicated using materials you could probably find in your home?
A study published in Advanced Materials Technologies reports that flexible, paper-based skin was created from (among other things) Post-it notes, paper, aluminum foil, lint-free wipes, and pencil lines.
According to the researchers, this new skin shows “multi-sensory functionalities close to that of natural skin.” Those functions include simultaneously feeling pressure, temperature, humidity, pH, and air flow.
Other researchers have developed artificial human skin, but with limitations. One has been made with gold – but at great expense. Other researchers have used stem cells, or a mix of collagen and cow and shark tissues.
Paper has been used to build flexible actuators, ammonia gas sensors, multi-color LED displays, and 3D antennas in other studies. Its highly porous structure and large “interfacial area” (space for making contact with stimuli) allows it to be sensitive for faster responses.
Scientists believe the wide-ranging uses for this type of artificial skin could include more “intuitive and accessible human-computer interactions,” which may be a scientist’s way of saying “robots.” The study team suggests that one day, the “intelligent skin” might also be useful in households and health care settings, where it can be used to examine food and atmospheric quality, as well as detect illnesses.