The fabrication of flexible arrays of pressure sensors with sensitivity and response times rivalling those of human skin are reported online in Nature Materials this week. These ultrasensitive, flexible artificial skins will enable superior prosthetic devices and sensing technologies.
The sensors, created by two independent teams, consist of arrays of active transducers on flexible polymeric substrates. However, the two groups used different transduction mechanisms and substrates. Zhenan Bao and co-workers produced pressure-sensitive capacitors integrated into organic field-effect transistors. Ali Javey and colleagues used a field-effect transistor with arrays of nanowires, and a pressure-sensitive rubber layer that acts as a tunable resistor. Both teams constructed flexible pressure-sensitive sensors with high responsiveness to touch. “The prototype artificial skins reported have successfully emulated the pressure sensitivity of human skin”, says John J. Boland in an accompanying News and Views article.