Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Synthetic Skin That Senses

PostedJune 8, 2008

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Randy Atkins:  Early efforts to give artificial body parts the ability to feel are borrowing technology from aircraft wing sensors, only they're...

Cheol Park:  More flexible, more elastic (like rubber), and more sensitive material.

Randy Atkins:  Cheol Park, a National Institute of Aerospace engineer, says the skin-like material is embedded with tiny, but very strong, tubes of carbon.

Cheol Park:  When you press the skin, those networks of the nanotubes changes slightly.

Randy Atkins:  That movement is translated to into electrical signals.  Since carbon nanotubes conduct electricity as well as copper, the signals could be…

Cheol Park:  ...provided to the nerve and brain.

Randy Atkins:  Others are using the same system to sense temperature.  One day those who have lost an arm may again feel the sensations of touching a loved one.  With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, 103.5 FM, WTOP Radio.