Electronic Skin That Heals?

March 18, 2016

I recently read an article about something that I have always thought about before. I always watched the Sifi movies like Terminator and thought how awesome it would be if we could self-heal our wounds. We would be similar versions of Wolverine and literally be indestructible. But this is always a figment of my imagination, or so I thought.

 

The article explains how science at the Israel Institute of Technology has advanced the use of electronic skin. Originally used for flexible sensors in electronic applications, robotics, and prosthetics, this new form will change the game forever.

 

These new types of sensors will allow for prosthetic wearers to actually feel change in their environment. Not only that, but also allow for the actual ‘electronic skin’ to feel and repair itself from wounds. This major breakthrough will allow the electronic skin to identify a scratch or cut as a wound and regenerate and repair itself in less than a day!

 

It will be made from a new kind of synthetic polymer, which is a larger molecule made up of similar smaller particles. With this they have created a stretchable bendable self-healing chemiresistor where every part of it no matter where can self-heal. This is accomplished by using a self-healing substrate, high-conductivity electrodes, and molecularly modified gold nanoparticles.

 

The gold nanoparticles are in between the high-conductivity electrodes and the self-healing substrate. When then the cut or tear is felt they create the healing that would otherwise cause loss of electronic communication.

 

While this all sounds like a bunch of electronic mumbo jumbo, the use is quite revolutionary. Recently any survivors from any type of accident like shark bites, burn victims, or even war veterans can have a second chance. We already have prosthetics in our modern day but they aren’t able to fully feel the actual skin on these prosthetics. Even worse, the prosthetics themselves cannot identify when it’s been compromised with a cut or scratch. After so much wear and tear the electronic communication between the prosthetic and the nervous system will deteriorate and they would have to purchase another one or get it fixed. This takes time and may hinder their day to day lives.

 

I found this advancement remarkable because now they don’t have to worry about this just like we don’t have to worry either. We get scratches or cuts and our body's own natural defenses can target that specific area and heal itself over time. We don’t have to worry about getting new set of fingers every time we get a paper cut or a new calf every time we cut ourselves from shaving. Yes, it hurts, but our bodies defense system heals itself on its own.

 

With this new chemiresistor the prosthetic will be able to act just like our skin and identify any abnormality. They biggest advantage is that it can repair itself in just one day if not less. It will work in most environments cold or hot. Everyone will be able to live a normal life and it will potentially save money for users. The new advancement may also leap our technological industries to create robots that are more human like and can actually heal themselves. I’m not too sure I’m just about ready for that.

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