Researchers are developing a new ultrarealistic synthetic skin they hope will be wrapped around next-generation prosthetic arms. Made from a designer polymer peppered with carbon nanotubes, the skin will sense pressure and temperature and, if all goes as planned, deliver the sensations to "remapped
" nerve endings on the chest. The research team, from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, NASA, and the National Institute of Aerospace, aim to have a a 6-square-centimeter swatch of the skin ready by the end of 2009. The work is part of the Department of Defense's Revolutionizing Prosthetics program. From IEEE Spectrum:
The DARPA goal is to have an artificial skin that can measure a force as small as 0.1 newton, says NIA’s (Cheol) Park; the nanotube composite is not that sensitive yet. But Park and his colleague Joycelyn Harrison are close to reaching that goal. They are tailoring the material’s properties by changing the concentration of carbon nanotubes and the structure of the polymer matrix. They are also close to achieving the spatial resolution of human nerve cells, which can differentiate between two pinpricks 2 millimeters apart. The polymer composite so far has a resolution of 5 mm.
Previously on BB:
• Sense of touch restored for amputees Link
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