“When the baby is sick, the robot can just use a finger to touch the surface,” Xiao said. In that case, “it can tell what the temperature of the baby is.”
The material used for skin is made out of a polymer network, which is called polyimine. Scientists also used silver nanoparticles. Thanks to the latter, the skin has strength, chemical stability and electrical conductivity. According to the researchers, e-skin can heal itself by combining compounds in ethanol with the material.
Thanks to the heat and pressure capabilities, self-healing electronic skin can effortlessly wrap around curved objects, including human skin and robotic hands. More importantly, the material is fully recyclable. According to the researchers, this feature is what makes e-skin unique.
“I think we are the first group to demonstrate recycling of such multifunctional e-skin,” Xiao told Newsweek.
E-skin can be recycled if the polymers get soaked in a solution which is used to degrade the polymers down and split the silver nanoparticles. The nanoparticles sink to the bottom of the solution. Xiao pointed out the importance of recycling due to the environmental pollution that we are facing around the world.
“What drives us to make such devices to be recyclable is because nowadays, we are facing very serious environmental pollution due to tens of millions of tons of electronic waste,” Xiao explained to Newsweek.
The concept of recyclability is becoming more and more important in order to preserve our planet and Zhang took it a step further. 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.
This is one of the many inventions that will enhance robotics. Last year, scientists introduced origami-inspired muscles which will contribute to the better movement of robots and their flexibility.
This article was republished with permission from Value Walk.