Researchers at the University of Glasgow have developed a self-powered, graphene-based robotic glove that is hypersensitive to touch.
Scientists around the world have been working to develop a flexible version of synthetic skin that can mimic the sensory receptors in human skin. The problem has always been how to power it.
“The Glasgow team created the skin with the help of a single atomic layer of graphene, in a method that includes integrating power-generating photovoltaic cells into the electronic skin,” Ron Mertens wrote on graphene-info.com
Professor Ravinder Dahiya, an electrical engineer at the University of Glasgow, said ‘Human skin is an incredibly complex system capable of detecting pressure, temperature and texture through an array of neural sensors which carry signals from the skin to the brain.
Dahiya’s first-of-a-kind sensor is a step toward more lightweight prosthetic limbs for people, as well as more natural-feeling robots covered in soft-skinned bodies. His new bot skin, which is made of a single atomic layer of graphene, is basically a touch sensor. It needs 20 nanowatts of power per square centimeter to operate.
In the journal Advanced Functional Materials, Ravinder Dahiya and his team described how they had integrated power-generating photovoltaic cells into their electronic skin.
“Whatever light is available, 98 percent is going and hitting the solar cell,” he said, explaining that a solar panel is located just under the surface of the clear graphene skin. “it is generating power that can be used to get the sensitivity, the tactile feeling.”
While the current energy system can only power the graphene-based sensory system, Dahia said it could eventually be used to power entire robotic limbs, including motor function.
“This could allow the creation of an entirely energy-autonomous prosthetic limb,” Dahiya said.
Watch the video from University of Glasgow below.
Publication Journal: C.G.Núñez et al. Adv. Funct. Mater. 2017, 1606287, DOI: 10.1002/adfm.201606287