Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Oscillating gel acts like artificial skin, giving robots potential ability to 'feel'

Date:
March 29, 2012
Source:
University of Pittsburgh
Summary:
Sooner than later, robots may have the ability to "feel." Scientists have now demonstrated that a non-oscillating gel can be resuscitated in a fashion similar to a medical cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Smiley face made of gel. Researchers have demonstrated that a nonoscillating gel can be resuscitated in a fashion similar to a medical cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Pittsburgh

Sooner than later, robots may have the ability to "feel." In a paper published online March 26 in Advanced Functional Materials, a team of researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) demonstrated that a nonoscillating gel can be resuscitated in a fashion similar to a medical cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

These findings pave the way for the development of a wide range of new applications that sense mechanical stimuli and respond chemically -- a natural phenomenon few materials have been able to mimic.

A team of researchers at Pitt made predictions regarding the behavior of Belousov-Zhabotinsky (BZ) gel, a material that was first fabricated in the late 1990s and shown to pulsate in the absence of any external stimuli. In fact, under certain conditions, the gel sitting in a petri dish resembles a beating heart.

Along with her colleagues, Anna Balazs, Distinguished Professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering in Pitt's Swanson School of Engineering, predicted that BZ gel not previously oscillating could be re-excited by mechanical pressure. The prediction was actualized by MIT researchers, who proved that chemical oscillations can be triggered by mechanically compressing the BZ gel beyond a critical stress.

"Think of it like human skin, which can provide signals to the brain that something on the body is deformed or hurt," says Balazs. "This gel has numerous far-reaching applications, such as artificial skin that could be sensory -- a holy grail in robotics."

Balazs says the gel could serve as a small-scale pressure sensor for different vehicles or instruments to see whether they'd been bumped, providing diagnostics for the impact on surfaces. This sort of development -- and materials like BZ gel -- are things Balazs has been interested in since childhood.

"My mother would often tease me when I was young, saying I was like a mimosa plant -- shy and bashful," says Balazs. "As a result, I became fascinated with the plant and its unique hide-and-seek qualities -- the plant leaves fold inward and droop when touched or shaken, reopening just minutes later. I knew there had to be a scientific application regarding touch, which led me to studies like this in mechanical and chemical energy."

Also on Balazs's research team were Olga Kuksenok, research associate professor, and Victor Yashin, visiting research assistant professor, both in Pitt's Swanson School of Engineering. At MIT, the work was performed by Krystyn Van Vliet, Paul M. Cook Career Development Associate Professor of Material Sciences and Engineering, and graduate student Irene Chen.

Funding for this research was provided by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Army.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Pittsburgh. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Irene Chou Chen, Olga Kuksenok, Victor V. Yashin, Anna C. Balazs, Krystyn J. Van Vliet. Mechanical Resuscitation of Chemical Oscillations in Belousov-Zhabotinsky Gels. Advanced Functional Materials, 2012; DOI: 10.1002/adfm.201103036

Cite This Page:

University of Pittsburgh. "Oscillating gel acts like artificial skin, giving robots potential ability to 'feel'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 March 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120329171610.htm>.
University of Pittsburgh. (2012, March 29). Oscillating gel acts like artificial skin, giving robots potential ability to 'feel'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120329171610.htm
University of Pittsburgh. "Oscillating gel acts like artificial skin, giving robots potential ability to 'feel'." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120329171610.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the industry fell under intense scrutiny. Now, small underground nuclear power plants are being considered as the possible future of the nuclear energy. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show

Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) An electric car that proponents hope will replace horse-drawn carriages in New York City has also been revealed at the auto show. (Apr. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Honda's New ASIMO Robot, More Human-Like Than Ever

Honda's New ASIMO Robot, More Human-Like Than Ever

AFP (Apr. 17, 2014) It walks and runs, even up and down stairs. It can open a bottle and serve a drink, and politely tries to shake hands with a stranger. Meet the latest ASIMO, Honda's humanoid robot. Duration: 00:54 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
German Researchers Crack Samsung's Fingerprint Scanner

German Researchers Crack Samsung's Fingerprint Scanner

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) German researchers have used a fake fingerprint made from glue to bypass the fingerprint security system on Samsung's new Galaxy S5 smartphone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins