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article imageSensitive 'artificial skin' may soon be a reality

By Michael Thomas     Jul 9, 2013 in Science
A recent press release from the American Technion Society says that a team from Israel has discovered how to create flexible sensors that may one day be used for electronic skin, or e-skin.
The release notes that this could be very good news for amputees with prosthetic limbs — they may actually be able to once again feel the sensations of temperature, humidity and touch.
It could even benefit those who have lost skin in fires, Science World Report suggests.
While researchers have been interested in creating flexible sensors for some time, they have only just recently perfected the process. The long-standing problem was that the sensors needed to do a whole range of things, from taking multiple measurements at once, to running on low-voltage batteries to measuring wide ranges of pressure.
The team managed to incorporate all of these factors into their new model by using monolayer-capped nanoparticles that are only 5-8 nanometers in diameter and made of gold, connected by molecules called ligands.
"Monoplayer-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 monlayer of organic ligands that generally protect it," said Hossam Haick, one of the researchers involved in the discovery.
The new flexible sensors are said to be 10 times more sensitive than the current generation, which may be very good news if and when sensors can be implanted into e-skin.
The findings of the study are published in the journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces.
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