July 19, 2013
Giving Touch To Prosthetics
When we talk about those with prosthetic limbs, we think about whole limbs and consider what sacrifices they have made over their lifetime. We look at the big picture, where they have lost a limb and can’t perform day to day tasks. While, yes, it is true that they have lost a limb, science and medical breakthroughs have made it possible for those individuals to replace those limbs and give them ability to perform those tasks. The one thing we may not consider is that these individuals have lost their sense of touch and it there is a high likelihood that they will not regain it. Until now. The American Technion Society has found a compound that can be placed on the prosthetic limb that will multiply the existing sense of touch by as much as ten times.
Right now, the touch that available is so low that it doesn’t give much distinguishable change when interacting within an environment and this new material hopes to provide that ability to those that have lost that sense. This new material will actually act as an artificial skin. This multiple layer of flexible sensors will allow a person to have multiple purposes. The overall effect of these flexible sensors will allow a person with prosthetic limbs the ability to sense touch, distinguish temperature, detect chemicals, and even determine humidity.
Dr. Nir Peled and his team have worked to give people the sense of normalcy and hope to bring them back to where they were before their accident. They used nanoparticles to make this happen. Using these nanoparticles would allow for the bending of the material. This also helps the artificial skin because as the artificial skin bends, the particles gravitate towards each other and create an electric connection. This allows for the electrons within the system to pass through faster. The faster these electrons are allowed to pass through the system, the more current that can pass through the system. What this means is that there is far more sensory information that is being created within the system. Simply put, because the system can allow more current to pass through the system, the more pressure that the person can feel because the range of pressures is greater within the system. This same idea can be applied to temperature. Temperature is simply the transfer of energy, so the more energy that can pass through the system, the more in tune the system is to what the temperature is.
This is amazing new technology and Dr. Peled hopes to apply these ideas to other sources. He hopes that this same idea can actually be applied to suspension bridges. This would greatly assist bridges that may be older or even may even be a standard when building bridges. This nanoparticle technology has rarely been applied, as not very many scientists can find an application for the idea. This new artificial skin though is sure to turn some heads and give scientists a reason to look more into this nanoparticle technology as these new scientists continue to give the feeling of life back to those that have lost part of themselves.
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