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Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Chinese Researchers Develop Flexible and Transparent Electronic Skin for Wearable Electronics

ChinaChinese Researchers Develop Flexible and Transparent Electronic Skin for Wearable Electronics

Chinese researchers have developed a new type of self-powered flexible and transparent electronic skin (e-skin) that can monitor subtle human activities. Led by Lan Wei, professor at the School of Physical Science and Technology of Lanzhou University, the team integrated a flexible transparent supercapacitor as an energy storage device with a stretchable transparent strain sensor to create the new e-skin. This integration allows the e-skin to be directly attached to various locations on the body for the monitoring of human activities.

The e-skin has vast application prospects in smart healthcare, human-machine interaction, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence. As the skin is the largest organ of the human body, the ideal e-skin should be ultra-sensitive, self-powered, conformal to human skin, and optically transparent for visual or aesthetic purposes. This new e-skin meets those requirements by being both flexible and transparent.

The system of the new e-skin is composed of a transparent supercapacitor, stretchable strain sensors, and snakelike electrical resistance. The assembled flexible and transparent supercapacitor uses oxygen-deficient molybdenum oxide nanowires and cellulose nanofiber composite as paper electrodes, achieving an excellent combination of high transparency and outstanding energy-storage capacity to drive the operation of the sensor.

Tests have shown that the new e-skin has an excellent performance in terms of its flexibility, transparency, electrochemistry, and high sensitivity. After charging, it can simulate the perceptive function of real skin and can be applied to human skin to realize real-time monitoring of people’s subtle physical signals and multi-scaled activities such as pulse, swallowing, and body movements.

According to Lan, “E-skin is the core of future wearable electronic devices with promising prospects. For example, it may help surgeons in more precisely controlling surgical robots, enable long-distance ‘touches’ between close people, and create a more immersive gaming experience.” The research team plans to focus on strengthening the sensory capacity and power supply of the e-skin, making it even closer to human skin and more adaptive to various future applications.

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