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Breakthrough Could Lead to 'artificial Skin' That Senses Touch, Humidity, and Temperature

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Closeup of a fingertip.

Researchers have discovered how to make a new kind of flexible sensor that one day could be integrated into electronic skin.

Credit: iStockphoto

Technion-Israel Institute of Technology researchers say they have made a flexible sensor out of tiny gold particles that could be used to create electronic skin.

The sensor can simultaneously sense touch, humidity, and temperature, and is at least 10 times more sensitive than other e-skin systems, says Technion professor Hossam Haick.

The sensor uses monolayer-capped nanoparticles that are less than 8 nanometers in diameter, made of gold, and surrounded by connector molecules called ligands. "Monolayer-capped nanoparticles can be thought of as flowers, where the center of the flower is the gold or metal nanoparticle and the petals are the monolayer of organic ligands that generally protect it," Haick says.

The researchers found that when the nanoparticles are laid on top of a substrate, the resulting compound conducted electricity differently depending on how the substrate was bent, meaning the sensor can detect a wide range of pressures.

"The development of the artificial skin as biosensor by professor Haick and his team is another breakthrough that puts nanotechnology at the front of the diagnostic era," says the Sheba Medical Center's Nir Peled.

From American Technion Society
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