A poisonous snake has inspired scientists to develop an artificial skin that can feel the changes in temperature. At Caltech and ETH Zurich, a group of international scientists and engineers have successfully developed an artificial skin that is capable of detecting the changes in temperature and sense the heat, like a snake does. The researchers have used machinery similar to the manner employed by a Snake’s organs to feel the heat. The similar instrument to the organs of snake that allows a pit viper to recognize their quarry has been employed by the scientists in the new artificial skin for detecting the heat alterations.
The synthetic skin looks like the paper-thin structures. It is made out of ‘jellified pectin’ – a naturally stirring material usually found in berries, apples and some other fruits. The artificial skin is also deepened with calcium ions – molecules that possess an electrical charge. Its capability of sensing changing temperature is based on a device analogous – but not completely alike organ of vipers, which is located between the nostril and the eye on both sides of the head. This organ allows the snakes to notice warm victim in the dark by sensing the radiated heat.
One of the brains behind this thrilling invention, Professor Raffaele Di Giacomo from Swiss university ETH Zurich, commenting on this matter said, “The ‘synthetic skin’ is competent for being applied for first-aid bandages, which will later alter physicians to a temperature point, a symptom of infectivity in wounds”.
Simply putting, the artificial skin is applicable to the first-aid bandages for alerting physicians, once the temperature reached a particular level. The increment of temperature is a clear indication of infection in injury and physicians, followed by the alert, will be capable of healing it or retreat it.
The complete research details about the synthetic skins were published in the science journal ‘Science Robotics’, this week. In the paper, the scientists highlighted that “The development of this paper-thin structure is capable of making accurate detection of “extremely small” temperature alterations within a range of 10 to 55 degrees Celsius. The machinery is also capable of sensing humid bodies like of a microwaved teddy bear from one meter away.
According to Dr. Chiara Dario, a professor of mechanical engineering and applied physics at Caltech (California Institute of Technology), “Pectin is one of the most common ingredients of the food industry. It is basically used in food industry as a jellifying agent and hence is quite cheap and easy to obtain too. It is what manufacturers use to make jam and in the development process of the new synthetic skin, this factor has played a pivotal role.”
The researchers, in the paper also mentioned about the critical stability of the synthetic skin. They said the structures are able to maintain its constancy and extreme sensitivity even after substantial deformation, like bending or distortion. The constancy and sensitivity are the most desirable feature for artificial skin and scientists basically focused more on these two matters most.