Interactive E-Skin Lights Up When Touched, Holds Promise for Sensory Robotics

The first user-interactive sensor network on flexible plastic has been demonstrated at the University of California, Berkeley. This new electronic skin (e-skin) lights up when touched and the more intense the pressure, the brighter the light. "We have demonstrated an elegant system on plastic that can be wrapped around different objects to enable a new form of human-machine interfacing," says Ali Javey, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences. The new technology builds on Javey's earlier work using semiconductor nanowire transistors layered on top of thin rubber sheets. These latest e-skin samples measure 16-by-16 pixels and each pixel contains a transistor, an organic LED, and a pressure sensor. In addition to giving robots a finer sense of touch, the e-skin could have applications in touchscreen displays and e-skin bandages to monitor health.