Engineering Minute

Engineering Minute – Water Resistant Transparent Electronic Skin

Scientists at the National University of Singapore have developed a self-healing transparent electronic skin, inspired by jellyfish. They created the skin using a gel, comprised of a flurocarbon-based polymer and a fluorine-rich ionic liquid. When the two materials are combined it creates a highly reversible ion-dipole interaction, allowing it to self-heal. 


"One of the challenges with many self-healing materials today is that they are not transparent and they do not work efficiently when wet,” says Benjamin Tee, assistant professor at the National University of Singapore and lead inventor of the electronic skin. “These drawbacks make them less useful for electronic applications such as touchscreens which often need to be used in wet weather conditions. With this idea in mind, we began to look at jellyfishes — they are transparent, and able to sense the wet environment. So, we wondered how we could make an artificial material that could mimic the water-resistant nature of jellyfishes and yet also be touch sensitive.”




From the National University of Singapore article: "The electronic skin is created by printing the novel material into electronic circuits. As a soft and stretchable material, its electrical properties change when touched, pressed or strained. 'We can then measure this change, and convert it into readable electrical signals to create a vast array of different sensor applications,' Asst Prof Tee added.

'The 3D printability of our material also shows potential in creating fully transparent circuit boards that could be used in robotic applications. We hope that this material can be used to develop various applications in emerging types of soft robots,' added Asst Prof Tee, who is also from the NUS Biomedical Institute for Global Health Research and Technology. 

Soft robots, and soft electronics in general, aim to mimic biological tissues to make them more mechanically compliant for human-machine interactions. In addition to conventional soft robot applications, this novel material’s waterproof technology enables the design of amphibious robots and water-resistant electronics."


Read more about the self-healing transparent electronic skin at the National University of Singapore.