Scientists create self-healing 'electronic skin'

Terminator e-skin

GETTYThe development of the e-skin could bring us one step closer to the Terminator

And that's now in the works.

Scientists have managed to create an "electronic skin" that is capable of healing itself and can be totally recycled, which could have major implications for the world of robotics, as well as prosthetics, augmented reality, video games, and more.

"I think we are the first group to demonstrate recycling of such multifunctional e-skin", Xiao told Newsweek. So don't think that this will allow you to instantly heal yourself like Wolverine or Deadpool if you fall off a bike, but a potential robotic device that also fell off the bike could potentially do that. It has several distinctive properties, including a novel type of covalently bonded dynamic network polymer, known as polyimine that has been laced with silver nanoparticles to provide better mechanical strength, chemical stability and electrical conductivity.

Scientists have developed a new type of malleable, self-healing and fully recyclable "electronic skin" that can be used in biomedical devices like artificial limbs and prosthetics. When the skin is cut into two, the electronic skin self heals by recreating chemical bonds between two pieces. Imagine a prosthetic arm or leg wrapped in the electronic skin, allowing its wearer to respond to temperature and pressure changes.

Discussing application of skin in robotics, Wei Zhang from the University of Colorado Boulder said, "Let's say you wanted a robot to take care of a baby". So, one can say that the latest e-skin has, in many terms, been able to mimic the mechanical and functional properties of human skin.

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All these will happen in the future but, in the meantime, E-skin is just a new invention and most probably will need some improvements.

"Imagine a robot that can gently hold a baby, touch him/her like the parents do, and feel the temperature increase if the baby gets a fever", he adds.

To fix the e-skin after it has suffered mechanical damage, a rehealing agent consisting of three compounds in ethanol is applied with heat pressing. E-skin is made out of a polymer and silver nanoparticles, which help it conform to intricate, curved spaces like fingers or toes.

Research team further informed, "Given the millions of tons of electronic waste generated worldwide every year, the recyclability of our e-skin makes good economic and environmental sense". According to Newsweek, he is dreaming of a future where people will simply soak any electronic device (including laptops, cellphones, tablets) in a solution which would dissolve the materials in order for them to be used again.

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