Chinese Scientists Create 3D Electronic Skin that Mimics Human Skin

For the first time in the world, a team of Chinese scientists has developed a bio-inspired electronic skin with a 3D structure that mimics three mechanical signals present in human skin. Thanks to its complex three-dimensional distribution, the sensory receptors in human skin can accurately perceive external forces and stresses, according to a study published recently in the journal “Science”.
By mimicking this spatial distribution, researchers at Tsinghua University have developed an electronic skin that replicates the structure of human skin, including its “epidermis”, “dermis” and “subcutaneous tissue”. This electronic skin can decode and perceive three mechanical signals – “pressure, friction and strain” – simultaneously at the material level.

“An electronic skin patch the size of a fingertip is equipped with 240 metal sensors, each ranging in size from 200 to 300 micrometers,” said Zhang Yi Hui, corresponding author of the study. “Their spatial distribution is similar to the distribution of tactile receptor cells in human skin.”

The sensors collect the signals, which are then processed with precision and enhanced by deep learning algorithms, allowing the biomimetic skin to accurately distinguish the texture and features of objects. The electronic skin exhibits high resolution in detecting pressure position, around 0.1 millimeters, which is close to the sensitivity of real human skin, according to the study.

The electronic skin could be integrated into the fingers of medical robots to perform more precise early diagnosis and intervention, according to Mr. Zhang. It could also be used as an assistive tool to provide real-time monitoring of biometrics, including blood oxygen saturation and heart rate.


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