Feeds

Stanford boffins create skinnier ‘skin’

No wrinkles, no Botox

Build a business case: developing custom apps

A group of scientists from Stanford University has created an artificial “skin” that acts as a stretchable, super-thin pressure sensor.

The Bao Research Group led by Zhenan Bao has demonstrated the film, which is made from single-wall carbon nanotubes bent to act as springs. The real breakthrough, however, isn’t just creating a stretchable film that returns to its original shape: it’s being able to finely measure the force applied either through stretching or compression.

The film is created by spraying the carbon nanotubes in liquid suspension onto a thin layer of silicon. The silicon is then stretched, which aligns some of the nano-bundles; when released, some of the tubes are bent into a spring-like configuration. Applying this stretching in two axes creates a film that the researchers say can be “stretched in any direction” while completely rebounding afterwards.

This is turned into a sensor by coating both sides of a silicon substrate with the nanotube film. The silicon stores charge, and its capacity is proportional to its thickness.

"This sensor can register pressure ranging from a firm pinch between your thumb and forefinger to twice the pressure exerted by an elephant standing on one foot," said team member Darren Lipomi, a postdoctoral researcher in Bao's lab.

The lab nominates prosthetics and robotics as possible applications for the sensitive film. Its work has been published online in Nature Nanotechnology.

Bao was one of the co-authors of the paper that led to the so-called “Schön scandal”, in which lead author Jan Schön claimed to have created molecular-scale transistors. Schön was accused of scientific fraud and later had his PhD revoked; however, Wikipedia says all of his co-authors were cleared of misconduct by a report commissioned by Bell Laboratories in 2002.

Here's Stanford's video demonstration of the film. Enjoy. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
Flamewars in SPAAACE: cooler fires hint at energy efficiency
Experiment aboard ISS shows we should all chill out for cleaner engines
Brit amateur payload set to complete full circle around PLANET EARTH
Ultralight solar radio tracker in glorious 25,000km almost-space odyssey
NASA Mars rover FINALLY equals 1973 Soviet benchmark
Yet to surpass ancient Greek one, however
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.