A team of scientists has created the electronic skin, or e-skin, that responds to touch by instantly
lighting up. The stronger pressure, the brighter the light it emits.
"We are not just making devices; we are building systems," said Ali Javey, a professor of electrical
engineering and computer sciences at the Berkeley campus of the university.
"With the interactive e-skin, we have demonstrated an elegant system on plastic that can be wrapped
around different objects to enable a new form of human-machine interfacing."
Shown is a 16-by-16 pixel interactive e-skin created by UC Berkeley engineers. Organic LEDs light up when touched. (Photo by Ali Javey and Chuan Wang)
This latest e-skin builds on Javey's earlier work using semiconductor nanowire transistors layered on top of
thin rubber sheets.
This new piece of technology could be used in smartphones and robots giving them a finer
sense of touch.
It could also be used to create things like wallpapers that double as touchscreen displays and dashboard laminates
that allow drivers to adjust electronic controls with the wave of a hand.
"I could also imagine an e-skin bandage applied to an arm as a health monitor that continuously checks blood
pressure and pulse rates," said study co-lead author Chuan Wang, who conducted the work as a post-doctoral
researcher in Javey's UC Berkeley lab.
The experimental samples of the latest e-skin measure 16-by-16 pixels. Within each pixel sits a transistor,
an organic LED and a pressure sensor.
Interactive E-Skin Developed at UC Berkeley
"Integrating sensors into a network is not new, but converting the data obtained into something interactive
is the breakthrough," said Wang, who is now an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering
at Michigan State University.
"And unlike the stiff touchscreens on iPhones, computer monitors and ATMs, the e-skin is flexible and can
be easily laminated on any surface."
In this artistic illustration of an interactive e-skin device, the intensity of the emitted light corresponds to how hard the
surface is pressed. (Illustration by Ali Javey and Chuan Wang)
To create the pliable e-skin, the engineers cured a thin layer of polymer on top of a silicon wafer.
Once the plastic hardened, they could run the material through fabrication tools already in use in the
semiconductor industry to layer on the electronic components.
After the electronics were stacked, they simply peeled off the plastic from the silicon base, leaving a
freestanding film with a sensor network embedded in it.
"The electronic components are all vertically integrated, which is a fairly sophisticated system to put onto
a relatively cheap piece of plastic," said Javey.
"What makes this technology potentially easy to commercialize is that the process meshes well with existing
The net step now is to further develop the e-skin sensors to respond to temperature and light as well as pressure.
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We all know that the Big Bang theory is an effort to explain what happened at the very beginning of our universe.
However, Australian team of theoretical physicists at the University of Melbourne and RMIT University say that it's time to change our understanding of this process.
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