Scientists have made a breakthrough in the field of robotics by inventing artificial skin that can heal itself. The skin is made of living human skin cells, silicone, and hydrogels, which are used as implants to treat severe burns. The material was developed by a team of researchers at the University of California, Berkeley.
The new materials use embedded, three-dimensional networks of tiny tubes that mimic the circulatory systems of living things. The crafted skin was strong and flexible enough to withstand the dynamic movements of the robotic finger as it curled and stretched. The researchers grew the skin on a robot finger, which displayed the ability to heal itself when injured.
Picture Credit: vice
The researchers first cultured the dermis, the middle layer of human skin, on the robot finger using a mixture of collagen and dermal fibroblasts, which are human skin cells that allow the skin to recover from injury.
Then, they seeded this dermis with keratinocytes, which are cells that make up the epidermis, the outermost layer of skin, and ultimately ended up with a robot finger in a sleeve of living human skin equivalent.
Quote from Christopher B. Cooper, Stanford Ph.D. student and co-author of the study:
"We’ve achieved what we believe to be the first demonstration of a multi-layer, thin film sensor that automatically realigns during healing. This is a critical step toward mimicking human skin, which has multiple layers that all re-assemble correctly during the healing process."
This invention has the potential to revolutionize the field of robotics. Researchers have been studying and developing convincing skin materials for robots for years, with Stanford professor Zhenan Bao touting the first multi-layer self-healing synthetic electronic skin in 2012. More than a decade later, Bao and fellow researchers have taken their studies even further into the future: layers of artificial skin that can now self-recognize and align with each other when injured, simultaneously allowing the skin to continue functioning while healing.
The self-healing skin is not only soft like real skin but can repair itself if cut or damaged in some way. This invention could lead to robots that are more human-like in appearance and function, with the potential to be used in various fields, including healthcare and entertainment.
Artificial Skin That Can Heal Itself & Repair Itself in 24 Hours
pic credit: wonderful engineering
This self-healing material can repair itself in just 24 hours when warmed to 158°F (70°C) or in about a week at room temperature. The material is made up of a network of tiny capsules filled with healing agents. When the material is damaged, the capsules break open and release the healing agents, which then fill in the damage and restore the material to its original state.
The researchers believe that the material could be used to create a variety of self-healing devices, including robots, medical implants, and aircraft.
"This material has the potential to revolutionize the way we design and manufacture devices," said lead researcher Christopher Long. "With self-healing materials, we can create devices that are more durable, reliable, and efficient."
The researchers are now working on improving the performance of the material and expanding its range of applications. They are also exploring ways to make the material more affordable and accessible.
"Artificial skin will allow robots to interact with the world in a much more natural way," said Renee Zhao, co-author of the study. "This will make them safer and more efficient."
The researchers are currently working on developing artificial skin that can sense a variety of stimuli, such as temperature, pressure, and pain. They believe that this type of artificial skin could be used to create robots that are as safe and reliable as humans.
The self-healing skin developed by Stanford University has a wide range of potential applications.
In the field of robotics, the skin could be used to create robots that are more resistant to damage and that can continue to function even after being injured. This could make robots safer for humans to work with and could also expand the range of tasks that robots can perform.
The skin could also be used to create new medical devices. For example, it could be used to create artificial skin that can be used to treat burns or other skin injuries. The skin could also be used to create prosthetic limbs that are more durable and that can be repaired more easily.
In addition to its applications in robotics and medicine, the self-healing skin could also be used in a variety of other industries. For example, it could be used to create self-repairing clothing or to create protective coatings for buildings and other structures.
The development of self-healing skin is a significant breakthrough that has the potential to revolutionize a wide range of industries. As the technology continues to develop, it is likely to find even more applications in the years to come.
The researchers believe that the self-healing material could be used to create reconfigurable soft robots. These robots would be able to change shape and size on demand, making them ideal for a variety of tasks, such as search and rescue, surgery, and manufacturing.
It could be used to search for survivors in a collapsed building. The robot would be able to crawl through tight spaces and squeeze through the rubble. If the robot were to be damaged, it would be able to self-heal and continue its mission.
The self-healing material could also be used to create artificial skin for robots. This skin would allow robots to feel their surroundings and avoid obstacles.
The researchers are currently working on improving the performance of the sensor and expanding its range of applications. They are also exploring ways to make the sensor more affordable and accessible.
In conclusion, the future of self-healing skin technology is exciting, and researchers are working on improving the performance of the sensor and expanding its range of applications. The development of self-healing skin has the potential to revolutionize the field of robotics and could lead to robots that are more human-like in appearance and function.