Stanford University chemical engineering professor Zhenan Bao, Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology senior researcher Jung Jong-won, and Gyeongsang National University professor Kwon Soon-ki recently announced that they developed an elastic electronic device including a tactile sensor capable of detecting a ladybug’s movement along with a method for manufacturing the device.
These days, scientists around the world are working on artificial skin for tactile prostheses and robot arms. However, none of them could actually present a method for mass production ahead of the three researchers, who successfully developed a technique for incorporating a fine tactile sensor circuit into a soft and elastic polymer material as well as a method for manufacturing it.
The electronic device includes layers of polymer materials. Some of the layers are elastic and some of the others function as a semiconductor circuit for data exchange. The device also includes flexible insulating layers without any electron flow. The researchers used an inkjet printer for mass production of the elastic electronic device. Nowadays, inkjet printers’ applications include electronic circuit printing.
The researchers put 6,000 artificial nerve circuits for tactile sensing into a 2 by 2 inch square. Their properties did not change even after the length of the square was doubled. The circuits are as thin as tens of nanometers and, as such, can be attached to fingers and the backs of hands.
The researchers confirmed that the circuits maintained their electrical and mechanical properties even after those were pulled more than 1,000 times. In addition, those functioned normally even on an uneven surface.