Researchers at US university Carnegie Mellon have created a new electrically conductive material that can repair itself, presenting new opportunities for soft robotics and wearable technology. Combining properties of metal and plastic, the supple, stretchy material can be used to make circuits that stay operational even after sustaining physical damage. The discovery opens up the possibility that robots may one day have sensor-laden skin that can repair itself like a human's, or that we could sport ultra-thin wearable devices on our bodies for long periods of time without them degrading. "This could have important applications in areas like wearable computing, where you want circuits you can incorporate into textiles or place on your skin, and just like natural skin if you get bruised or cut, your skin is able to repair itself," says Carmel Majidi, an associate professor of mechanical engineering, in a video produced by Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). "Our material also has this property."
Researchers have developed an electronic rubber material that will help create soft, stretchy robots and electronics. The material, given the nickname'thubber,' can conduct heat and is also elastic in a similar way to biological tissue - and was even used by researchers to create a robotic fish with a'thubber' tail. The material can stretch to over six time its length and be used in heated garments for injury therapy as well as soft robotics and even flexible electronics such as an iPad that can fit into your wallet. A: The researchers created a soft-robotic fish that can swim using a tail made of'thubber.' The fish was composed of a silicon body and caudal fin connected by the thubber.
The self-assembling shape shifting killer robots from the Terminator films could be a step closer, thanks to the development of self-propelling liquid metals. A team of Australian researchers is laying the groundwork for T-1000s by creating the basis of soft electric circuits. Unlike modern circuitry found in electronic devices, which remain based on circuits with solid state components, future connections could be much more flexible and able to move and reconfigure as necessary. A team at RMIT University in Melbourne used non-toxic alloys of the metal gallium, which is liquid at close to room temperature. By adding droplets of the alloy galinstan to water and changing the pH, they were able to make the drops move about freely.
A new type of plastic that can heal itself when damaged could mean satellites will be able to stay in orbit for longer, scientists have revealed. The polymer heals cracks when exposed to certain light by converting from a rigid structure to a much softer, malleable substance. Under certain conditions, the plastic used by researchers could become up to ten times softer and more dynamic. Such plastics could also be used to coat vehicles on Earth, including cars, giving them the ability to heal after being involved in crashes. A new type of plastic that can heal itself when damaged could mean satellites may stay in orbit for even longer, scientists have revealed.
Most conventional androids are fairly rigid, susceptible to damage and difficult to repair. However, scientists are determined to (literally) give them thicker skins. They've experimented with soft, deformable circuits that are flexible, and could reduce business expenses in the long term -- but are still prone to tearing and puncturing. The solution to these issues may lie in one recent advancement. A group of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University have found a way to counter surface damage and electrical failure commonly observed in soft materials used in engineering robotic electronics.