DGIST and SKKU team creates artificial skin sensors

August 14, 2019 - South Korea

Scientists at DGIST Department of Smart Textile Convergence Research and Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU) have jointly developed artificial skin tactile sensors which function like human skin and can detect pressure and vibration at the same time. These can be used to measures textile roughness. Existing sensors can only detect pressure and temperature.

The research was led by senior researcher Changsoon Choi’s team at DGIST and Dr. Sungwoo Chun at SKKU.

Unlike existing sensors which only have pressure and temperature detection functions, the new sensors detect both pressure and vibration as well as convert the surface roughness of a matter into electrical signals, enabling identification of physical stimulations with more accuracy.

Among various sensory receptors on human skin, tactile sensors developed by the team mimicked both ‘Slow Adaptive (SA)’ receptors that detect pressure and ‘Fast Adaptive (FA)’ receptors which detect the vibration and roughness. Using the principles of friction electricity generation, the team developed and used the conversion of toughness from tactile into electrical energy signals.

The tactile sensors developed by the team are in a flexible film-form that consist of an upper panel with human fingerprint-like micro patterns, middle panel with vibrator sensor mimicking FA receptors and a low panel with a pressure sensor mimicking SA receptors. Choi’s team especially used the principle of identifying roughness by measuring the vibration of friction electrical signals that are generated through object surface, to mimic FA receptors. Along with the sensors developed and the upper panel mimicking fingerprints, the team succeeded in classifying the roughness of 12 fabrics with more than 99 per cent classification accuracy.

This opens the possibility of artificial skin grafting for patients who need skin graft due to accidents, and make them have the real skin sense. The sensors will enable users to feel the senses through actual skin during a VR experience in a suit built with a tactile sensor.

Choi said “I was inspired to develop new sensor while watching a movie where the main character was wearing a suit to experience virtual reality and feel his pain like in real. I hope that our research becomes the cornerstone for artificial skin-related and other researches.”

The research has been published on the online version of Nano Letters. (SV)