Researchers have found a material that can mimic human skin and improve robots’ sensing capabilities.
Usually rigid semiconductor materials that create robots’ circuits limit the machines’ movement or sensing, either because they are not flexible or don’t permit electrons to flow efficiently. But the rubber electronics and sensors tested by a University of Houston team could solve this challenge by providing flexibility and sufficient electron flow. A new study published in the Science Advances journal found the material allowed the electronic functions to retain their electrical performance by more than 55% when the material was stretched by 50%.
“It’s a piece of rubber, but it has the function of a circuit and sensors,” Cunjiang Yu, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Houston and study author, told Live Science.