Man and machine might not be that different in the future -- especially if they share the same synthetic skin being developed at Stanford University.
The skin utilizes spray-on carbon nanotubes -- in a liquid suspension -- applied to a layer of silicon, which is then stretched to align some of the nanotubes into bundles that resemble tiny springs. These bundles, "can be stretched repeatedly -- again and again -- without losing their conductivity," said Research Team Lead Zhenan Bao in a press release.
By coating both sides of the silicone with these nanotubes, the "skin" becomes both touch-sensitive and pressure-sensitive. The pressure sensitivity comes from two conductive parallel plates that increase in capacitance as they are squeezed together. The Stanford team hopes to further develop and eventually incorporate the skin into future designs for both robot exteriors and human prostheses. [The Register]