Quilting squares of nanowire mesh onto a thin film created the scaffold needed to develop a new kind of electronic skin that may one day be incorporated into prosthetic limbs or a future generation of robots. A team of engineers at UC Berkeley made the new skin, which is overlaid with pressure-sensitive rubber. This would facilitate simple tasks like typing or holding something in your artificial hand.
Significantly, the new technology is designed to be cheap to use and requires only low voltage, making it far more efficient than organic materials, which haven't been very good at conducting electricity.
"If we ever wanted a robot that could unload the dishes, for instance, we'd want to make sure it doesn't break the wine glasses in the process. But we'd also want the robot to grip the stock pot without dropping it," said associate professor Ali Javey. "The idea is to have a material that functions like the human skin, which means incorporating the ability to feel and touch objects."