As we advance our technology, it is not unusual to see attempts at mimicking biological systems. For example, electronic skin and eye implants have been developed to aid humans and robots. Now researchers at Berkeley Lab and University California, Berkeley have created e-whiskers.
At first glance whiskers can look like some weird, thick hair growing out of an animal's face, but they are actually very valuable. The whiskers act as very sensitive tactile sensors, enabling some insects and mammals to feel their environment and even sense wind direction. The researchers have managed to replicate this ability by coating high-aspect-ratio elastic fibers with films of conductive nanotubes and nanoparticles. The resulting e-whisker is sensitive enough to pick up a single Pascal, which is roughly the pressure a dollar bill exerts on a table top.
The most obvious use for this new kind of sensor is with robots, so they can better sense their environment. We could also see applications with wearable sensors, measuring heartbeat and pulse rate.
Source: Berkeley Lab