Solar-powered synthetic skin 'could aid development of prosthetics'


Scientists have used graphene to develop new solar-powered synthetic skin with the potential to revolutionise the field of prosthetics.

Created by the University of Glasgow, the new approach allows integrated power-generating photovoltaic cells to be built into electronic skin for the first time, utilising the optical transparency of graphene to gather energy from the sun to generate power.

“New solar-powered synthetic skin technology has been developed that offers potentially significant benefits in the field of prosthetics.“

Since the material allows around 98 percent of the light striking the surface to pass directly through it, it requires only 20 nanowatts of power per sq cm, meaning even the lowest-quality photovoltaic cells available could be used to power it.

At present, any energy generated by the skin's photovoltaic cells cannot be stored, but researchers are now trying to find ways to divert unused energy into batteries to improve its practicality.

This technology could be used to create everything from sensitive prosthetics to industrial robots with an improved safety profile.

Dr Ravinder Dahiya from the University of Glasgow's school of engineering said: "My colleagues and I have already made significant steps in creating prosthetic prototypes which integrate synthetic skin and are capable of making very sensitive pressure measurements."

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