The term "bionic skin" is not entirely new to this generation. At least, I remember making a post about bionic skin that can control objects. Before the advent of complexities embedded in bionic skin, it was majorly used therapeutically for people with damaged skin, and cosmetically for aesthetic reasons. But as advances are being made, complexities are being embedded into this awesome tech, and now we are about to witness a paradigm shift from "bionic skin as usual" to the self-healing bionic skin.
If you have ever seen any of the X-Men movie series, you may know about Logan (Wolverine) and his mutant ability of self-healing. But this is entirely science fiction. However, we live in a world where these fictions are rapidly becoming realities. Let's take a little survey of the nature of this self-healing bionic skin.
Nature of the self-healing bionic skin
First of all, I would want to state that this is an improvement on the existing technology of bionic skin. But this particular research was done by a team of researchers from Israel Institute of Technology, led by Professor Hossam Haick.
The prototype design was embedded with a synthetic polymer (which is sensitive to Volatile Organic Compound, and has a huge number of repeated tiny molecules), with an incorporation of jelly-like electrodes coated with gold nanoparticles (silver nanoparticles could suffice too).
The purpose of this gold nanoparticles (or silver nanoparticles as the case may be) is to recreate chemical bonds between the synthetic polymer and the electrodes in the bionic skin. And this is exactly what does the actual self-healing
Dynamics of self-healing bionic skin
Here's how the skin actually does the "self-healing":
Once there's a crack, for example, in the skin; the skin would be induced to a lower temperature of between 10 degrees Celsius to 0 degree Celsius. And we all know that at this temperature, moisture should start condensing.
Once this condensation is formed on top of the kin (between the jelly-like electrodes), the gold nanoparticle (or silver nanoparticle) would suck in the moisture and create bonds between the cracks to solidify the cracked portion.
This video I found in Rajamanickam Antonimuthu’s YouTube account explains the healing process.
The idea that actually led to the creation of this self-healing bionic skin is to create a bionic skin that would mimic the biological skin in healing, but would do that in a shorter time frame.
This same technology can also be applied to flexible and bendable electronics to prevent cracks due to tensile stress and strain that may arise from flexibility.
Here's what the lead scientist on this research has to say about this tech:
The susceptibility of flexible sensors to cracks as seen in reality requires that a self-healing device that would mimic the human skin should be developed. - Professor Hossam Haick. Source [Paraphrased by me]
One of the very awesome features of this self-healing bionic skin is that; after the healing process, the healing sensor around the site of the crack will become even stronger than before the crack, thus making it to survive other cracks in the future.
Applications of self-healing bionic skin
In humans: Yes, this is the first and the major application of this kind of skin. For people with prosthetic body part; the part would be laced with this skin, which would make the person feel like it's his biological skin. Did I mention that this skin is sensitive to changes in temperature? Yes it is; just like the normal biological skin.
In robotics: Advances in robotics have led to the creation of humanoid droids that would mimic human functionality with so much details. This skin would further simulate the effect of "humans" in these robots.
In flexible electronics: Because of the vulnerability in the makeup of bendable and flexible electronics, this skin can be used to design these electronics so that their flexibility would be almost flawless.
Technology has really come to stay. A time could come when this kind of skin would be so modified that it can be used to replace the normal skin willingly, so as to give humans extra-human abilities (like the Logan "wolverine").
But until then, we should just maintain an open mind.
Thanks for reading
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