Scientists have developed a new type of flexible, self-healing and fully recyclable electronic skin. That has applications ranging from robotics and prosthetic development to better biomedical devices. Electronic skin is known as e-skin. E-skin is a thin, translucent material. That can mimic the function and mechanical properties of human skin. E-skin will also be helpful for disabled humans who are forced to wear a prosthesis.
The next generation of fitness trackers and health monitors may not be little boxes we wear around our necks or on our wrists. They could be flexible wearables or temporary tattoos. But when such devices get damaged, they’ll need to be replaced. And when they’re no longer needed, they’ll end up on the growing mountain of e-waste. Researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder have developed an “electronic skin”. Electronic skin embedded with a host of sensors that can be bent and twisted to custom fit its owner. if Electronic skin gets damaged, the e-skin can be healed, and it can be completely recycled at the end of its useful life.
Another benefit of the new e-skin is that it can be easily conformed to curved surfaces like human arms and robotic hands by applying moderate heat and pressure to it without introducing excessive stresses.
The research team noted that the formula used in this project achieved “relatively low stretchability and high strength”, and says that fabrication method tweaks and formula modifications could yield electronic skins that are more stretchy if needed.
The material is recycled by being broken down with a special solution, turning polymers into oligomers and monomers that are alcohol soluble. The silver nanoparticles, being freed from the polyimine, simply drop down to the bottom of the recycling solution.