Color-Switching Electronic Skin of use in Prosthetic And Wearable Technology
Nature is full of surprises. So are the animals present in the nature. Certain animals including squid, chameleons, and octopus have the option of switching their colors as per the temperature changes, communication, and also for an attack or save themselves kind of purposes. This color change mechanism is termed as camouflage which the researchers are trying to integrate into the electronic skin.
The researchers from the Tsinghua University have been able to integrate the color-shift concept into the artificial skin. The color change can be visually experienced by the naked eye but only when the material is sedated to experience huge mechanical strain. The scientists have developed new interactive electronic skin with a color-changing capability that can be visible to the naked human eye without any requirement of mechanical strain. The new electronic skin will prove beneficial for the wearable technology, prosthetics, and robotics.
The researchers have made the flexible electronics using graphene with a very sensitive resistive strain sensor and a stretchable organic electrochromic tool. The graphene material is chosen basically due to the substrate effect of the electromechanical behavior. The modulus-gradient structure is designed using graphene in order to obtain a performance with reduced cost and uncomplicated process. The graphene not only behaves as a highly sensitive strain sensing material but also as an insensate stretchable electrode of the ECD layer.
For bringing about a color change in the electronic skin, a low strain measuring 0–10% was applied and the RGB value of the color obtained was quantified as per the magnitude of strain. The graphene’s property of rapid carrier transport, transparency, specific surface area, and flexibility makes it highly positive for further application as sensors, stretchable electrodes, optical devices, and supercapacitor. The performance of the strain-sensing material and substrates mechanical property are correlated. This concept had earlier been ignored but now it has been closely studied and can bring about a lot of change in the electromechanical behavior of the functional element.
The new study is the first of its kind where the interactive color change can be brought about by applying a small strain. Looking at the use of low amount of stain in order to obtain a camouflage effect on the electronic skin is what the researchers from China have achieved. This user-interactive electronic skin proves to have a promising application in the robotic, prosthetic, and wearable gadget sector in the near future.