Artificial Skin UPSC NOTE

 What is Smart Core?

  • Dr. Coclite and her team had succeeded in developing a three-in-one “smart skin” 

  • Its hybrid material, which closely resembles human skin by simultaneously sensing pressure, moisture and temperature and converting them into electronic signals

  • With 2,000 individual sensors per square millimetre, the hybrid material is more sensitive than a human fingertip, giving it its reputation, and, at 0.006 millimetres thick, many times thinner than human skin. 

  • The team says that by reacting to these three human sensory impressions, the smart skin prototype surpasses all electronic skin materials on the market to date which only react to pressure and temperature.

  • Dr. Coclite, a solid physics domain expert, not only works on cutting edge emerging tech, but also has the felicity of explaining her science in a way that is easily comprehensible

  • Artificial skins are a series of materials that try to emulate the functionality of our skin

  • Of course, you know, our human skin is very complex, it has a lot of functions, not only sensing, but also thermal regulation and protection. 

  • Artificial skin projects try to emulate at least some of the functions. 

  • In our particular case, we focused on the sensing properties. 

  • So we tried to include in our device, some sensors for humidity, temperature and pressure

  • To show that like in human skin, you would feel as if you’re touching something colder or warmer.

  • Similarly, also this artificial skin differentiates between colder warmer objects, objects with spikes, without spikes, and so on.”

  • Human skin has a resolution of one millimetre square

  • So this means that if you have an object that is one millimetre square or bigger, you can feel it with your finger. 

  • With the device that we have produced, we were able to even measure the electrical current from a pixel that was 0.25 millimetre square, smaller than one millimetre square. 

  • So, this means that you can get information also on smaller areas than human skin

How is this beneficial?

  • First of all, it could give maybe a more integrated response with a more precise response than human scale. 

  • And also it could be used for for example, sensing smaller objects.

  • It has been years in the making. 

  • While work on the artificial skin project began in 2016 as funding came in, “before that, we were working on the materials that have been used in this type of device, for example, one of the material is a smart polymer, which changes thickness, depending on humidity and temperature.”

  • For those also conscious of leaving a waste trail, and making sure any project is sustainable, the other advantage Dr. Coclite’s team provides is the sizing. 

  • All the sensors that we use are all made of thin films much smaller than one millimeter

  • This means that the quantity of material used is really small

  • And therefore there is not too much of footprint that is left from these materials

  • The thickest part of this whole device is actually the substrate where we have used plastic foil, but it could also be paper foil, with better biodegradability

  • With the success of the prototype and armed with ERC funding that is smoothing out the path

  • One area of practical application that really excites her and the team is prosthetics

  • The artificial skin could cover the prosthetics and help the patient with the amputation regain sensation. 

  • So I wouldn’t say that it would have a therapeutic effect, but it could be used for some medical device.

  • For example, to give back the sensation to people that have lost a limb.

  • Such intelligent prosthesis could be a possibility if researchers are able to integrate the signals from the smart skin with human neural networks, teaching the brain to read these new signals

  • According to WHO, around 200,000 people are severely burned every year and suffer a complete loss of sensation due to the death of the skin receptors

  • Smart skin could act as a “plaster” to help burn victims regain sensations

  • I think the biomedical application development is the one area I am more interested in. 

  • Because I think it would be really cool, from my point of view, if one of my research projects could help give back the sensation to patients who have lost it or solve real problems.”



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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Artificial Skin UPSC NOTE
Artificial Skin UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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