A lot depends on soft electronics for the real-time health monitoring and sensing abilities of robots. But reliability remains a challenge in the use of these materials. Because these soft electronics are elastic and pliable is less repeatable, unlike that of rigid devices. The variation in reliability of soft electronics is known as hysteresis.
Taking a cue from the theory of contact mechanics, a new sensor material with significantly less hysteresis created by a team of researchers at the National University of Singapore. This new material enables more accurate robotic sensing and wearable health technology.
The results of the research is published in the prestigious publication Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The use of soft materials as compressive sensors is usually as a cause for severe hysteresis issues. The material properties of soft sensor can change in between repeated touches, which impacts the reliability of data. As a result, to get accurate readouts every time becomes challenging, thereby limiting the possible applications of sensors.
New material for sensor features nearly zero Hysteresis
The invention of a material with high sensitivity is a breakthrough, but with an almost zero hysteresis in its performance. The team developed a process to press metal thin films into desired ring-shaped patterns on a flexible substance called polydimethylsiloxane.
The team incorporated this polydimethylsiloxane film with substrates and electrodes for a piezoresistive sensor and characterized its performance. The repeated carrying out of mechanical testing verified that the design innovation improved sensor performance. The invention termed Tactile Resistive Annularly Cracked E-Skin (TRACE) is five times improved than conventional soft materials.
The unique design, thus enabled to achieve significantly improved accuracy and dependability of robots.