Nanoparticles Give Robots Precise Sense of Touch

June 8, 2006

robot_touch.jpgResearchers at the University of Nebraska have developed a new film that can give robots a sense of touch similar to a human's in sensitivity. The film is constructed from layers of metal and semiconducting nanoparticles which are sandwiched by two layers of electrodes. When the film touches a surface, the pressure squeezes the particles together, which changes the current of the film and produces a small amount of light that can be detected by a camera. Prior to the development of this film, most tactile sensors could only achieve a mere fragment of the sensitivity of the average human finger tip. The creators of this film hope that it can be applied to minimal access surgery and advanced robotics. It warms my heart to know that the robot nannies of the future will be able employ exacting touch as they pick up babies by their soft, malleable heads and place them safely away in the specially-designed drawers and cabinets the future babies call home.

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