A group of specialists from the University of Colorado (CU) Boulder have as of late developed a novel sort of flexible, self-recuperating and thoroughly recyclable "electronic skin". Researchers gave more details regarding the new material in a study which they published on Friday in the journal Science Advances. In addition, the e-skin is embedded with sensors to measure pressure, temperature, humidity and air flow, he said.
Wei Zhang, a partner teacher in CU Boulder's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry stated, the new CU Boulder e-skin has sensors implanted to quantify weight, temperature, mugginess and wind current.
"What is unique here is that the chemical bonding of polyimine we use allows the e-skin to be both self-healing and fully recyclable at room temperature", said Xiao. This latest e-skin is special because it's recyclable - and that's an important added bonus if you consider that in the United States alone, 16 billion pounds of electronic waste was created in 2014.
Another benefit of the new CU Boulder e-skin is that it can be easily conformed to curved surfaces like human arms and robotic hands by applying moderate heat and pressure to it without introducing excessive stresses. This encourages the polymers to degrade into oligomers and monomers that are soluble in ethanol, with the silver nanoparticles sinking to the bottom of the solution. If it's damaged beyond fix, the e-skin can be soaked in a solution that separates out the silver nanoparticles and then be fully recycled into a new, usable e-skin.
So if the e-skin is severely damaged, or you're just done with it, it can be recycled using a "recycling solution".
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And interestingly, the electronic skin is completely recyclable, or at least it's created to be once it's complete. All materials can then be reused to create another patch of functioning e-skin.
The e-skin consists of three commercially available compounds that are mixed together in matrix and intertwined with silver nanoparticles.
Imagine indeed. The team says further research will aim to improve the mechanical and electrical properties of the e-skin, optimising the flexibility, recyclability and self-healing for a range of different applications. Pressure triggered a reaction in the skin that lights up blue, green, red, and yellow LEDs; as pressure increased the lights got brighter.
According to the team, the eco-friendly technology could find broad applications in robotics, prosthetics, health care, and human-computer interfaces.