New ultra-flexible tactile skin 'to revolutionise robotics and prosthetics'

Engineering

New advances in engineering have led to the creation of an ultra-flexible tactile skin that could revolutionise the design of robotics and prosthetic devices in future.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council has awarded a 1.07 million pound funding grant to a team led by the University of Glasgow, which has found a way of incorporating electronics and sensors on bendable silicon-based surfaces around 50 micrometers thick.

“Scientists in the UK are pushing ahead with groundbreaking research into ultra-flexible tactile skin that could have numerous applications in robotics and prosthetics.“

They will now be working to create silicon-based nanostructures, such as nanowires, which can be printed on bendable substrates. This will eventually lead to the creation of flexible electronic or tactile skin with distributed sensors and electronics.

Dr Ravinder Dahiya, a senior lecturer in electronic and nanoscale engineering at the University of Glasgow, said: "Interfacing the multidisciplinary fields of robotics and nanotechnology, this research on ultra-flexible tactile skin will open up whole new areas within both robotics and nanotechnology."

It is thought that this technology could be used to create robots that can perform tasks such as lifting elderly people, or advanced touch-sensitive prosthetics.

Dr Dahiya is an internationally recognised expert in the fields of micro/nanofabrication, solid-state sensors, robotic tactile sensing and flexible/printable electronics.

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