Solar-Powered Prosthetic Skin Could Return Sense of Touch to Amputees
Engineers from the University of Glasgow in Scotland, who have previously developed an electronic 'skin' covering for prosthetic hands made from graphene, have now found a way to use some of graphene's impressive properties to use energy from the sun to power the skin. Their prosthetic hand prototypes are capable of properly gripping soft materials, which other prosthetics can struggle with. Graphene's optical transparency allows around 98% of the light that strikes its surface to pass directly through it, which makes it ideal for gathering energy from the sun. The new skin requires just 20 nanowatts of power per square centimeter. Although the energy generated by the skin's photovoltaic cells cannot be currently stored, the team is looking into ways to divert unused energy into batteries, allowing the energy to be used as and when it is required.