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3D printed electronic skin has bending and sensing capabilities

2024-03-27 17:38

Scientists from the United States and India have worked together to develop a new type of electronic skin by using the nano engineering hydrogel with tunable electronic and thermal biosensors and 3D printing technology. The new skin can bend and stretch like human skin, and has the ability to perceive.  It is expected to be applied in fields such as robots, prosthetics, wearable devices, sports and fitness, safety systems, and human-computer interaction. The relevant research paper was published in the latest issue of the journal Advanced Functional Materials.

Human skin is a "bridge" connecting the brain and the outside world, providing rich feedback to the human body through touch, temperature, and pressure. In the future, electronic skin is expected to be applied in many fields, such as wearable devices that continuously monitor users' vital signs such as movement, body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure.

The latest research leader and professor of biomedical engineering at Texas A&M University, Ashlesh Jahavo, pointed out that in order to create electronic skin, durable materials must be developed. These materials should have the flexibility to mimic human skin, including bioelectric sensing capabilities, as well as manufacturing techniques suitable for wearable or implantable devices. To this end, they developed a nano engineering hydrogel.

Researchers have utilized the "atomic defects" in molybdenum disulfide nanoparticles to achieve high conductivity.  These specially designed molybdenum disulfide nanoparticles act as cross-linking agents to form hydrogels and endow electronic skin with conductivity and thermal conductivity.

The researchers introduced the "triple crosslinking" strategy in the hydrogel based system. Hydrogels are easier to handle and operate, solving some problems encountered in developing electronic skin with 3D printing technology, and helping to build complex 2D and 3D electronic structures. Hydrogels also enable new e-skin to better adapt to and adhere to dynamic, wet biological surfaces, which is particularly important for medical care.