A robotic medical hand might allow doctors to diagnose and treat patients more accurately from anywhere across the world, but currently available technologies are not reliable to meet the in-person experience.
In a paper published in Science Advances, researchers announced that they have developed and created a smart electronic skin and a medical robotic hand capable of evaluating critical diagnostic data using a newly invented high carrier mobility semiconductor.
The interfacial assembly and the rubbery electronic devices mentioned in the paper indicate a route to soft, stretchy electronics and integrated systems suitable for a variety of emerging applications that mimic the softness of biological tissues.
The smart skin and medical robotic hand are only two possible applications that the researchers are developing to demonstrate the usefulness of the discovery.
Traditional semiconductors are brittle, and special mechanical modifications are needed to use them in otherwise stretchable electronics. The other stretchable semiconductors which were previously used had their disadvantages, including poor mobility of the carrier; the speed with which charge carriers can pass through a material.
The addition of minute quantities of metallic carbon nanotubes to the P3HT-polydimethylsiloxane composite rubbery semiconductor increases carrier mobility, which controls the efficiency of semiconductor transistors. A major step forward is the new versatile production process for these stretchable semiconducting nanofilms and the invention of fully rubbery transistors.
A semiconductor material is dissolved in a solution and lowered to the water where it spreads; from the solution, the solvent will evaporate culminating in better semiconductor characteristics.
This is the latest method of manufacturing high-quality composite films, enabling completely rubberized semiconductors to be manufactured consistently. Electrical efficiency is maintained even when 50 percent of the semiconductor is stretched, the researchers reported. A notable advancement is the ability to extend rubber electronics by 50 percent without degrading efficiency. Human skin can be stretched only about 30% without tearing.