Researchers developed a new way of miniaturizing units of soft ultra-compact and highly integrated sensors to use in e-skin system for directional tactile sensitivity
The skin is the biggest organ of the body that plays an important role in facilitation of our touch senses. However, replicating its sensitivity in artificial versions is difficult. A team of researchers at Chemnitz University of Technology and Leibniz IFW Dresden developed a new type of electronic skin that contains small embedded hairs to accurately perceive the touch and direction it moves.
E-skins are made from this films of material having electronic properties allowing them to perform functions that natural human skin does. In this new study, the researchers developed an e-skin that contains a new sensor that are extra sensitive to touch. The researchers mimicked an important factor of human touch sensation, small hair lining the skin. The scientists added small, magnetic hair into an elastomeric material for developing this e-skin. Similar to natural hair these artificial hair comprise bulbous roots sitting below the e-skin’s surface and it can move around when the hair above the e-skin are touched. The team surrounded these roots by a 3D magnetic sensor that allows to track the exact position of the root in real-time. Due to this, the whole matrix of sensors registers the touch and direction of that touch to a hair.
According to the team, these magnetic sensors can be created in bulk sheets easily. Then these magnet sensor can fold themselves into 3D boxes housing the roots of hair using a process called micro-origami. With this approach the functional sensor elements in 3D can have accurate spatial arrangement that can be produced in mass in a similar process of manufacturing, as producing these sensors with conventional micro electric fabrication technique is difficult.