Inspiration from the natural world: Boosting flexible electronics
With increased study of bio-adhesives, a significant effort has been made in search for novel adhesives that will combine reversibility, repeated usage, stronger bonds and faster bonding time, non-toxic, and more importantly be effective in wet and other extreme conditions.
A team of Korean scientists?made up of scientists from Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) and UNIST?has recently found a way to make building flexible pressure sensors easier—by mimicking the suction cups on octopus’s tentacles.
In their paper published in the current edition of Advanced Materials, the research team describes how they studied the structure and adhesive mechanism of octopus suckers and then used what they learned to develop a new type of suction based adhesive material.
According to the research team, “Although flexible pressure sensors might give future prosthetics and robots a better sense of touch, building them requires a lot of laborious transferring of nano- and microribbons of inorganic semiconductor materials onto polymer sheets.”
Silicone is so soft and flexible that it is easily deformed by the pressure of a finger. Researchers at Fraunhofer have recently created sensors made from this flexible material, making it easier to steplessly control devices. At the Hannover Messe, they are presenting a glove that can measure pressure and a steering wheel that lets the driver control music, light and ventilation at the touch of a finger
Multifunction steering wheels are standard in most automobiles today, and these days drivers can easily manipulate the cruise control and stereo without taking their hands of the wheel. However, the buttons are rather inflexible and the driver can often only switch something “on” and “off” or can only choose the “next” or “previous” song. “That is because they are made of rigid materials like hard plastic, metal or ceramics,” explains Dr. Holger Böse, technical and scientific manager of the Center Smart Materials (CeSMa) at the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC in Würzburg, Germany. In his work, Böse focuses on smart materials with mechanical features that can be controlled either electrically or magnetically.