Electronic Fingertips to Improve SensationsCategory: Science & Technology
Posted: August 10, 2012 06:50AM
Touch is a very important sense to us and our fingertips have developed into what they specifically to maximize their ability to feel. Sometimes they are not sensitive enough, so researchers at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Northwestern University, and Dalian University of Technology, as reported by the Institute of Physics, have developed advanced fingertips to augment our fingertips. Though the potential for their device is extremely great, it could be in medicine it finds the most important impact.
The electronic fingertips are comprised of gold conductors, ultrathin sheets of silicon, and a flexible polyimide, which are all amenable to modern semiconductor production techniques. In the current design, the electronics are used to measure stresses and strains at the fingertips by the change in capacitance they create. This could be useful for robots which may not apply the correct amount of pressure in certain scenarios. By adding additional sensors though, such as ones to measure motion and temperature, a surgeon could use them to find target areas during a procedure.
Though the current design is an artificial fingertip, the researchers want to expand this technology to be applicable as just an artificial skin. Such a skin could then be used to cover organs, like the heart, to collect detailed information.