2020 breakthroughs: New electronic skin can feel pressure, temperature and pain

Anna Green reflects on one of 2020's significant scientific breakthroughs

Anna Green
18th December 2020
Researchers at Melbourne’s RMIT University have developed a new electronic form of artificial skin. The implications of this advance in technology are huge, paving the way for more sophisticated prosthetics as well as future alternatives to invasive skin grafting.

RMIT University have used cutting edge technology to develop what they call ‘electronic somatosensors’, manmade detectors of pain, pressure, and temperature. This incredibly sensitive prototype is said to "realistically mimic the very human feeling of pain", according to Professor Madhu Bhaskaran, co-leader of the functional materials and microsystems group.

Bhaskaran claims that the fundamentals needed for this technology to be applied biomedically, such as "biocompatibility, skin-like stretchability…are already there".

Using combinations of previously pioneered technologies, researchers were able to achieve stretchable, temperature-sensitive skin with the ability to store and recall ‘memory’ of previous sensation. This new skin has engineered memory cells that will send a signal, triggering a biological response if pressure, heat or pain surpasses a threshold. This allows for greater sensitivity than has ever been achieved before.

Featured Image: Pxfuel

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