When creating modern limb prostheses,one of the most important problems is the creation of a sensitive coating that can replace human skin and have sufficient tactile sensitivity. If the electronic skin is still able to recognize light touches, then the artificial covering of prostheses is not yet capable of identifying hard contacts that cause pain in a person. Thus, a person is not able to identify pain from punctures, cuts or burns, which can lead to damage to an expensive prosthesis or injury to the user.
Scholars from the Royal MelbourneUniversity of Technology (RMIT University) in Australia, have been able to create artificial electronic skin that can respond to pain like human skin. When the pressure or temperature on the surface of the skin reaches a threshold value, upon exceeding which a person screams in pain, almost instant feedback is provided with the owner of the prosthesis.
Wearable e-skin prototype under developmentcreated on the basis of an elastic thin conductive material (a mixture of oxides and biocompatible silicone) with a pressure-sensitive, thermosetting coating and information storage. The developers claim that the new skin is able to distinguish between a light pinprick and a harsh impact, leading to painful sensations. Electronic skin mimics real neurons, receptors, and neural pathways that control human sensitivity.
Preliminary work is currently underwayto create the first prototypes of sensitive e-skin. However, scientists are already claiming the enormous benefits of such artificial skin, which allows to protect the disabled person from potential dangers, as well as to use the invention in robotics and in the creation of non-invasive skin grafts.