Making Electronic Skin for Interactive Robots: New Materials & Advances

 NAO Humanoid Robot with multi-modal artificial skin, at the Institute for Cognitive Systems, TUM- Germany

News Release, Skin Aging & Challenges – July 19, 2022

Flexible electronics have huge potential to bring revolution in robotics and prosthetics as well as to bring about the next big evolution in the electronics industry. In robotics and related applications, it is expected to revolutionize the way with which machines interact with humans, real-world objects, and the environment.

The conformable electronic or tactile skin on robot’s body, enabled by advances in flexible electronics, will allow safe robotic interaction during physical contact of robot with various objects. Developing a conformable, bendable and stretchable electronic system requires distributing electronics over large non-planar surfaces and movable components.

The current research focus in this direction is marked by the use of novel materials or by the smart engineering of the traditional materials to develop new sensors, electronics on substrates that can be wrapped around curved surfaces. Attempts are being made to achieve flexibility/stretchability in e-skin while retaining a reliable operation.

Dahiya et al. provide insight into various materials that have been used in the development of flexible electronics primarily for e-skin applications.

In addition to mechanical robustness, the choice of the material is also influenced by the application. The use of smart structural engineering techniques would enable the use of well-established silicon technology to develop flexible and stretchable e-skin sensors. Furthermore, sensors developed via these technique would enable better system integration thus aiding easy integration with circuits of data collection, signal condition and processing of the received data.

Novel materials such as nanowires, carbon nanotubes and graphene exhibit excellent mechanical and electrical properties which are critical parameters for the development of e-skin sensors.

In addition to passive sensors, developed via various transduction mechanisms, development of transistors using the novel material are highly desirable as it would enable the development of active circuit matrix for large-scale sensing with low power consumption. It will also enable easier readout circuit and individual access to devices. Development of Field Effect Transistor using the novel material is challenging due to various aspects. 

Organic materials are also desirable for the development of flexible components for e-skin due to low cost. 

In conclusion, recent developments have led to e-skin sensors exceeding sensitivity of human skins in terms of detection of human skin. Although there are many issues yet to be addressed, the progress in the development trend in e-skin suggest that humanoid equipped with flexible and stretchable will be possible in near future.

© Photo Copyright: Read the full review.


Skin Ageing & Challenges 2022 Congress will introduce the latest technologies and discoveries in E-skin. Reserve your spot.

Skin Ageing & Challenges 2022
November 17-18, 2022 – Lisbon, Portugal
www.skin-challenges.com

Extracellular Vesicles: Potential Theranostic Platforms for Skin Diseases and Aging

Conceptual overview of EVs and their associated effects on skin

News Release, Skin Aging & Challenges – July 8, 2022

Extracellular vesicles (EVs), naturally secreted by cells, act as mediators for communication between cells. They are transported to the recipient cells along with cargoes such as nucleic acids, proteins, and lipids that reflect the changes occurring within the parent cells.

EVs have been recognized as potential theranostic agents for diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis. In particular, the evidence accumulated to date suggests an important role of EVs in the initiation and progression of skin aging and various skin diseases, including psoriasis, systemic lupus erythematosus, vitiligo, and chronic wounds.

This review by Kim et al. highlights recent research that investigates the role of EVs and their potential as biomarkers and therapeutic agents for skin diseases and aging.

It covers:

  • The role and theranostic potential of extracellular vesicles in skin diseases
  • The role and theranostic/Cosmetic Applications of Extracellular Vesicles in Skin Aging

  • Topical Delivery Systems for Extracellular Vesicles

Read Full Review


Dr. Sun Hwa Kim , the corresponding author, will be joining Skin Ageing & Challenges 2022 Congress to share her latest work on this matter.

Skin Ageing & Challenges 2022
November 17-18, 2022 – Lisbon, Portugal
www.skin-challenges.com

 

 

Electronic skin

Microelectronic Skins: A New Revolution?

Ulsan National Institute’s electronic skin

News Release, Skin Aging & Challenges – June 29, 2022

Magnetic sensors are widely used in our daily life for assessing the position and orientation of objects. Recently, the magnetic sensing modality has been introduced to electronic skins (e-skins), enabling remote perception of moving objects. However, the integration density of magnetic sensors is limited and the vector properties of the magnetic field cannot be fully explored since the sensors can only perceive field components in one or two dimensions.

A recent study by Christian Becker and colleagues reported an approach to fabricate high-density integrated active matrix magnetic sensor with three-dimensional (3D) magnetic vector field sensing capability. The 3D magnetic sensor is composed of an array of self-assembled micro-origami cubic architectures with biased anisotropic magnetoresistance (AMR) sensors manufactured in a wafer-scale process. Integrating the 3D magnetic sensors into an e-skin with embedded magnetic hairs enables real-time multidirectional tactile perception.

The researchers demonstrate a versatile approach for the fabrication of active matrix integrated 3D sensor arrays using micro-origami and pave the way for new electronic devices relying on the autonomous rearrangement of functional elements in space.

By merging e-skin, micro-origami, active electronics and proper sensor technologies together, this approach frames a general strategy for the fabrication and high-density integration of 3D sensors for vector field detection far beyond the sensing of a magnetic field.


This topic will be further elaborated by Prof. Oliver Schmidt who will join Skin Ageing & Challenges 2022 this November! Stay tuned to learn more about e-skins and other innovations.

Read the full article.

Skin rejuvenation

Topical Platelet Exosomes: New Strategy for Skin Rejuvenation

News release, Skin Ageing & Challenges – 23 June 2022

Exosomes are regenerative mediators for skin rejuvenation. In the context of aesthetic medicine, platelets are an ideal source for exosomal isolation given their role in skin healing. Human platelet extract (HPE) is an allogeneic exosome product derived from US-sourced, leukocyte-reduced apheresed platelets with consistent purity and potency.

This recent study aimed to better characterize the safety and tolerability of novel human platelet extract (plated) Intensive Repair Serum, and its maximal effects on skin rejuvenation at 6 weeks. Structured sub-analysis evaluated multifactorial improvement in skin health following standardized skin care regimen to determine the maximal effect. Evaluation at baseline and 6-weeks included subject questionnaires and photodocumentation.

The results showed quantifiable and statistically significant improvements in overall skin health (“Skin Health Score” or SHS). A greater score correlated to greater overall skin health and there was a statistically significant mean delta improvement in SHS at 6-weeks compared to baseline. This correlated to reduction in redness, wrinkles, and melanin production across all cosmetic units and significant improvements in luminosity and color evenness.

The authors concluded that a topically applied platelet-derived exosome product, human platelet extract, induced normalization to skin health at 4-6 weeks with improved various clinical measures of facial photodamage and cutaneous aging. It is safe, well-tolerated, and well-liked by subjects.


A special session on Exosomes, Extracellular Vesicles and Skin Ageing will be covered during Skin Ageing & Challenges 2022 congress this November. 

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Skin Ageing

Skin Cells Made Up To 40 Years Younger with New “Rejuvenation” Technique

Aging is the gradual decline in cell and tissue function over time. It is characterized by various factors, including telomere attrition, genetic instability, and misfolded proteins.

The progression of some age-related changes can be measured and used to predict age in humans.

Induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) reprogramming is a process in which any cell can be converted into an embryonic stem cell-like state. Embryonic stem cells can be made into any cell. iPSC can thus reverse age-associated changes, including telomere attrition and oxidative stress.

An early form of the technique was famously used on “Dolly” the sheep, the first mammal cloned from an adult somatic cell in 1996.

iPSC reprogramming, however, results in a loss of original cell identity and function. Research suggests that short-term iPSC approaches may preserve cell identity and reverse age-related changes in mice.

Understanding whether a partial iPSC reprogramming approach could rejuvenate human cells could help researchers develop new treatments for age-related conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and neurological disorders.

Researchers applied a partial iPSC technique to middle-aged skin cells in a recent study.

According to molecular measures, they found that the cells became up to 40 years younger, including DNA methylation clocks and transcriptomes.

“We have shown that using this technique, we can, in the lab, rejuvenate cells,” Ines Milagre, Ph.D., from the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciencia, Portugal, one of the study’s authors, told Medical News Today.

“These cells seem to be more like younger cells, at least partially, in the functions we tested, such as collagen production and in wound healing assays,” she added.

“Here the authors claim that if they try to make iPSCs from skin, but stop the process partway along the way, they get skin cells with properties similar to skin cells from much younger people,” David J. Cutler, Ph.D., professor of human genetics at Emory University School of Medicine, who was not involved in the study, told MNT.

“Such an astonishing claim requires far more evidence than presented here,” he added.

The study was published in eLife.


Rejuvenating skin cells
 
The researchers introduced viral vectors to skin cells from three donors epigenetically aged 45, 49, and 55 years for the study. The viral vectors forced the expression of four proteins known as Yamanaka factors that can induce stem cell formation.

However, rather than exposing the cells to the viral vectors for the 50 days needed for complete cellular reprogramming, they removed the cells after 10, 13, 15, or 17 days.

When measuring the cells’ DNA methylation age, they found that 10 days of exposure reduced cellular age by 20 years and 17 days of exposure by 40 years.

They reported similar results from other cellular measures.

They also found that other epigenetic clocks may rejuvenate later in the reprogramming process, suggesting that cellular rejuvenation occurs in stages.

They further noted that after 17 days, cells would likely enter a “stabilization phase” in which they would no longer retain their original identity.


Future directions

When asked how these findings may contribute toward treating age-related conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and neurological disorders, Dr. Cutler said:

“This research is far too preliminary and a bit too unlikely, to take particularly seriously at this stage. iPSC research is some of the most important going on in the medical field. If these techniques really do work and are generalizable, they could simplify the process of getting new ‘cells’ to give back to a patient.”

The researchers’ next aim is to see if the technology may also work on other tissues such as muscle, liver, and blood cells.

They ultimately hope that their findings will contribute to efforts to extend the human healthspan—as opposed to life span—so people can age more healthily.


Join Skin Ageing & Challenges 2022 congress this November to learn more about recent advances in extending healthspan and many more.

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User Friendly Electronic Skin

 

News Release, Skin Aging & Challenges – March 14, 2022

Engineers have been developing robots that can be controlled remotely by a human operator, but, as the researchers note, most such systems are bulky and difficult to control.  In this new effort, the researchers in China sought to develop a more user-friendly system. To that end, they created what they call an electronic skin, a flexible skin patch that can be applied to the skin of a human controller that captures both movement and stress factors such as twisting and turning, TechXplore reported.

The patch has sensors for reading information from its own sensors, wireless transmitters to send the information it is receiving, and small, vibrating magnets that assist with haptic feedback. Groups of patches are placed on the skin of an operator at important junctures such as the fold on the front of the arm over the elbow. Some of the sensors in the patch consist of wires placed in a zigzag fashion, which are pulled straighter as the patch is bent, providing information about body movement—bending an arm at the elbow, for example, or releasing it.

All of the combined data from the patches allow an operator to control a remote robot without having to wear clumsy gear. But there is more to the system: The patches are also applied to parts of the robot to allow the operator to receive feedback. Putting patches on the robot’s fingertips, for example, would allow the operator to feel the hardness of an object held by the robot, courtesy of the tiny vibrating magnets.

With the use of Bluetooth, the feedback signals are delivered in an impressive four microseconds, with that figure increasing manifold when operating through a Wi-Fi network, according to the article. However, regardless of how the data is transmitted, the delay is below the 550 microseconds an average human takes to react to tactile stimuli anyway.

The device’s battery allows for more than an hour of non-stop work, while in standby mode it can last for up to two weeks.

Although still a prototype, the system could come in handy down the road, with bomb disposal and radioactive waste cleanup being just some of the areas where robotic assistance would likely be appreciated.

Join us in Skin Aging & Challenges 2022 and get introduced to the most recent mind blowing electronic skin creations.

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