Progress Made Toward Electronic Skin That Senses Pain, Temperature and Touch

PainRelief.com Interview with:
Md. Ataur Rahman
Research Fellow
Functional Materials and Microsystems Research Group
School of Engineering
RMIT University
Melbourne, Victoria Australia

PainRelief.com:  What is the background for this study?

Response: The most prevalent and critical skin receptors relate to pressure, temperature, and pain – the Pacinian corpuscle, thermoreceptor, and nociceptor, respectively. All these receptors detect stimuli, measure levels of stimuli, and transmit signals to the brain triggering reactions. The characteristic features of such human sensory system are quite complex to be mimicked by existing electronics. Development of such electronics will be a big step leading towards smart prosthetics and human-like robotics.

PainRelief.com:  What are the main findings? What are some of the potential uses for this ‘skin’?

Response: While some existing technologies have used electrical signals to mimic the skin receptors, these new devices can react to real mechanical pressure, temperature, and pain, and deliver the right electronic response.

This electronic skin enable replacement of affected human skin regions, augment skin sensitivity for agile applications in defense and sports, and drive advancements in intelligent robotics.

PainRelief.com: What should readers take away from your report?

skin-pain

Response: We practically demonstrate this somatosensory system exploiting metal/soft substrate-based pressure sensor, high temperature processed metal oxide which can transition from insulator to metal at near room temperature, and room temperature processed metal oxide having a capability of showing memory performance. The invention reports that similar kind of receptors of the skin can be practically implemented by using combination of metal and metal oxides.


PainRelief.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: The next step is to develop the electronic skin on skin-like soft/stretchable and transparent substrate.

PainRelief.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: Every square centimeter of our skin contains 200 pain receptors, 15 Pacinian corpuscle and 7 thermoreceptors. The development of nanotechnology enables the realization of such number of receptors in a small area. This electronic skin demonstrates the pathway for achieving the miniaturization envisioned with real life-like skin.

Citation:

Rahman, M.A., Walia, S., Naznee, S., Taha, M., Nirantar, S., Rahman, F., Bhaskaran, M. and Sriram, S. (2020), Artificial Somatosensors: Feedback Receptors for Electronic Skins. Adv. Intell. Syst.. doi:10.1002/aisy.202000094

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