Solar-Cell “Super Skin” Is Better Than Yours

Stanford University chemical engineering Professor Zhenan Bao has developed a flexible, stretchable solar cell, which she envisions as a future component in artificial skin for robots, human prosthetic limbs, or even clothing.

The film stretches up to 30% from its original size along two axes without losing function or resulting in loss of elasticity. That kind of durability allows for innovative applications; Bao speculates that her film could be incorporated into soldiers’ uniforms as a bio-sensor, or into prosthetic limbs and digits that perceive touch and have better flexibility than current options.

The sensory-detection system built into the skin is so sensitive it can detect the presence of a housefly. With customized nanolayers, the film can also be used as a sensor for various chemical and biological compounds. One test performed already shows that a modified Super-Skin film can detect a certain kind of DNA.

Bao said she sees the super skin as much more than a super mimic of human skin; it could allow robots or other devices to perform functions beyond what human skin can do.

“You can imagine a robot hand that can be used to touch some liquid and detect certain markers or a certain protein that is associated with some kind of disease and the robot will be able to effectively say, ‘Oh, this person has that disease,'” she said. “Or the robot might touch the sweat from somebody and be able to say, ‘Oh, this person is drunk.'”

With applications testing and further developments underway, I’m interested to see where the Super-Skin ends up first. My prediction: military use. What do you guys think?

[source: 1|2] [image]

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4 Responses to Solar-Cell “Super Skin” Is Better Than Yours

  1. An amazing looking piece of technology, I can see an incredible number of advances off the back of this. 

    With sensor ability and charging along with being durable I can see devices will fully covering touch screens that also act as chargers.

    Though the most interesting of all, I think has to be the ability to detect some DNA. We could see locks and devices that respond in different ways to different users, no more logging in to devices, you simply touch them instead.

  2. Military applications first, as always! Then amputees and  robots and then other enhancements for humans. Let's start having super powers. 

  3. I'd say customs or airports security, just imagine a definitive answer on whethere there are drugs or explosives residue on a case or person?

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