Researchers at the University of Glasgow have used graphene to develop a robotic hand with solar-powered skin, which may open the door to the development of prosthetic limbs or robots with a sense of touch.
The team created the skin with the help of a single atomic layer of graphene, in a method that includes integrating power-generating photovoltaic cells into the electronic skin. The scientists say that “Whatever light is available, 98 percent is going and hitting the solar cell”, explaining that a solar panel is located just under the surface of the clear graphene skin. “it is generating power that can be used to get the sensitivity, the tactile feeling”.
Smart prosthetic hands, in particular, can already reproduce many mechanical properties of human limbs and giving them a skin-like sense of touch would make them even more useful for amputees. Touch-sensitive electronic skin could also be used in robots to give them a more human look and feel, and to enhance performance and help them detect potential dangers when interacting with humans.