Research ArticleAPPLIED SCIENCES AND ENGINEERING

A potentiometric mechanotransduction mechanism for novel electronic skins

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Science Advances  24 Jul 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 30, eaba1062
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aba1062

Abstract

Human skin perceives external mechanical stimuli by sensing the variation in the membrane potential of skin sensory cells. Many scientists have attempted to recreate skin functions and develop electronic skins (e-skins) based on active and passive sensing mechanisms. Inspired by the skin sensory behavior, we investigated materials and electronic devices that allow us to encode mechanical stimuli into potential differences measured between two electrodes, resulting in a potentiometric mechanotransduction mechanism. We present here a potentiometric mechanotransducer that is fabricated through an all-solution processing approach. This mechanotransducer shows ultralow-power consumption, highly tunable sensing behavior, and capability to detect both static and low-frequency dynamic mechanical stimuli. Furthermore, we developed two novel classes of sensing devices, including strain-insensitive sensors and single-electrode-mode e-skins, which are challenging to achieve using the existing methods. This mechanotransduction mechanism has broad impact on robotics, prosthetics, and health care by providing a much improved human-machine interface.

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