Engineers from the University of Houston have created a soft robot with neurologic capabilities via a stretchable transistor.
The technology could lead to prosthetics that connect with a user’s nerves, allowing them to feel sensations in artificial limbs.
“When human skin is touched, you feel it,” said Associate Professor Cunjiang Yu, a mechanical engineer on the research team.
“The feeling originates in your brain, through neural pathways from your skin to the brain.”
The device is able to mimic these sensations with transistors that continue to work even after they have been stretched by up to 50 per cent. Incorporated into the soft robot, these transistors are able to sense physical tapping and move adaptively in response.
“The mechanoreceptors respond to physical touches by generating presynaptic pulses, which excite the synaptic transistors to render postsynaptic potentials, which can be potentially interfaced with biological nerves or engineering counterparts,” the researchers explained in an article about the technology.