Seoul National University researchers have developed artificial nerves that can move the legs of dead insects.
Seoul National University announced on June 1 that the joint research team of Lee Tae-woo, professor of material engineering and Zhenan Bao, professor of Stanford University, developed artificial sensory nerves that mimic biological tactile nerves using flexible organic devices.
If the artificial nerve developed by the research team is attached to a dead insect, it can move the insect's legs with pressure. The researchers explained that the artificial nerve is similar to a human peripheral nerve that responds immediately to pressure.
The artificial nerve consists of a pressure sensor that mimics a vital skin tactile receptor, an organic ring oscillator that mimics biological neurons (nerve cells), and an organic synapse transistor that mimics biological synapses (neurons and joints of neurons).
In case of creatures, when pressure is applied to the skin, it is converted to a pressure voltage, which is delivered to the neuron. Then it moves through the synapse and the voltage stimulates the motor neurons, causing movements of the body.
The artificial nerve also works through this procedure. Pressure information from artificial tactile receptors passes through artificial neurons and turns into action potentials, stimulating artificial synapses.
The researchers explained that when a soft robot is equipped with an artificial nerve, the robot can move like a human being. They said the artificial nerve can even interpret Braille, the writing system for the blind.
Professor Lee said, "We have presented a new milestone in the development of robots that act like humans and prosthetic devices for people with disabilities in parts of their nerves."
The results of the study were published in the international journal, Science on June 1.