Rubbery camo skin features smart and stretchy behaviors

The skin of cephalopods, such as octopus, squid, and cuttlefish, is stretchy and intelligent, which contributes to these creatures’ ability to sense and react to their environment. A Penn State-led collaboration has harnessed these properties to create artificial skin that mimics both the elasticity and neurological functions of cephalopod skin, with potential applications for neurorobotics, skin prostheses, artificial organs and more. Again.

Led by Cunjiang Yu, Dorothy Quiggle Career Development Associate Professor of Engineering Science and Mechanics and Biomedical Engineering, the team published their findings June 1 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The skin of cephalopods is a soft organ that can withstand complex deformations, such as expansion, contraction, bending and twisting. It also has cognitive sense and response functions that allow the skin to detect light, react and camouflage its wearer. While artificial skins with these physical or cognitive abilities have existed before, according to Yu, so far none have exhibited both qualities simultaneously – the combination needed for advanced, artificially intelligent bioelectronic skin devices.

“Although several artificial camouflage skin devices have been recently developed, they lack essential non-centralized neuromorphic processing and cognition capabilities, and materials with such capabilities lack robust mechanical properties,” Yu said. Recently developed flexible synaptics have enabled brain-inspired computing and touch- and light-sensitive artificial nervous systems that retain these neuromorphic functions when biaxially stretched.”

To achieve intelligence and scalability simultaneously, researchers constructed synaptic transistors entirely from elastomeric materials. These rubbery semiconductors function similarly to neural connections, exchanging critical messages for system-wide needs, unresponsive to physical changes in system structure. According to Yu, the key to creating a soft-skin device with cognitive and stretching capabilities was using rubbery, elastomeric materials for each component. This approach has resulted in a device that can successfully exhibit and maintain neurological synaptic behaviors, such as image sensing and memory, even when stretched, twisted, and pushed 30% beyond a state. natural rest.

“With the recent wave of skin-smart devices, implementing neuromorphic functions in these devices opens the door to a future direction towards more powerful biomimetics,” Yu said. knowledge in smart skin devices could be extrapolated to many other areas, including wearable neuromorphic computing devices, artificial organs, soft neurorobotics, and skin prostheses for next-generation smart systems.”

The Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Program and the National Science Foundation supported this work.

Co-authors include Hyunseok Shim, Seonmin Jang, and Shubham Patel, Penn State Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics; Anish Thukral and Bin Kan, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Houston; Seongsik Jeong, Hyeson Jo and Hai-Jin Kim, School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, National Gyeongsang University; Guodan Wei, Tsinghua-Berkeley Institute of Shenzhen; and Wei Lan, School of Physical Science and Technology, Lanzhou University.

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Material provided by Penn State. Original written by Mary Fetzer. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.