Researchers at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology have developed a new type of electronic artificial skin that responds to pain like real skin. This artificial skin opens the door to improved prosthetics, smarter robotics and non-invasive alternatives to skin grafts. The prototype device can electronically replicate human skin-perceived pain, the researchers said.
It mimics a near-instant human response to feedback and has the ability to respond to pain sensations at the same speed as nerve signals send to the brain. Pain is an important way for humans to help avoid death or injury. The skin is the body’s largest sensory organ, human beings all the time through the skin to perceive things, pain response, only at a certain moment will start. When something is too hot or sharp, we feel pain and avoid potential life-threatening injuries. When the pain threshold is reached, artificial skin can react immediately to pressure, heat, or cold.
In addition to pain sensing prototypes, the team has developed stretchable electronics to sense and respond to changes in temperature and pressure. As more progresses, the stretchable artificial skin could be used in the future for non-invasive skin grafts that traditional methods do not work or have no effect, the researchers said.
Artificial skin uses stretchable electronics that combine oxide materials with bio-compatible silicone to create a transparent, non-fragile, wearable electronic device as thin as a sticker. A temperature reaction coating 1,000 times thinner than human hair is used based on materials that change when heated. The brain mimics memory functions using electronic memory cells to mimic how the brain remembers and retains previous information over a long period of time. Pain sensors use all three coatings, while other prototypes use only one.