Scientists have been successful in creating electronic skin that can heal itself, according to the Verge. The sheer possibilities arising from such an invention excites many in the scientific community, with creators hopeful that the advent of recyclable electronic skin can transform future prosthetics and robots.
E-skin, as electronic skin is more popularly known, has been in development in several labs around the world, with the Japanese having created an e-skin, which, when worn, can turn one’s body into a motion controller. Another lab in Europe has been able to successfully create an e-skin that can allow the wearer to manipulate virtual objects without touching them. But while these developments have allowed for more experimentation when it comes to users wearing the skins, the development of a recyclable e-skin could forever transform the electronic market with simply no waste produced.
One can gauge what a monumental triumph it will be if this e-skin can be commercially produced by the sheer fact that in 2014 alone, the United States produced 16 billion pounds worth of electronic waste. A report by UN suggested that only 20 percent of all the e-waste — your transistors, phone chips, and hard disks — is being reused, adding a great degree of burden on an already frail environment fighting climate change.
In third world countries, e-waste has been responsible for turning rivers black and transforming towns into colossal dumps.
Jianliang Xiao, one of the developers of the recyclable e-skin, is most pleased about the new invention not only because of what it offers to the environment but also because they are now closer to creating a substitute for biological skin.
“This particular device won’t produce any waste.”
“We are facing pollution issues every day. It’s important to preserve our environment and make sure that nature can be very safe for ourselves and for our kids…”
“The idea is to try and mimic biological skin with e-skin that has desired functions.”
How the self-healing e-skin works has been described by the developers in the journal Science Advances.
Basically, the e-skin is a thin film equipped with sensors that can measure pressure, temperature, humidity, and air flow. It is composed of three readily available compounds in commercial markets, which, when mixed together in a matrix and laced with silver nanoparticles, form an e-skin that can heal itself, or in other words, is reusable. If the e-skin is cut in two, just adding the three compounds to the “wound” will allow the skin to heal itself by recreating the chemical bonds.
Even if the e-skin is damaged severely, it can simply be recreated by soaking in a solution.
No wonder the possibilities are immense!