Project Details


Skin, the largest organ of the human body, is essential for human-environment interactions and survival, yet humanoids, prosthetics, and wearable devices continue to lack comparable sensory devices and protection. An ideal synthetic skin must be flexible, scalable, easy to wrap around limbs, able to detect touch and force from surrounding objects, and protect against or limit the spread of microbes. Large-area, skin-like sensors for detecting spatial distributions of touch, pressure, and impact will be useful for a number of applications ranging from civil infrastructure to prosthetics to robotics to structural health monitoring of ground and aerospace vehicles. To enable these future applications, the proposed work will include design rules to aid engineers in scaling up imprint lithography and assembly for roll-to-roll processing of synthetic skins. Lightweight, inexpensive skin will prevent life-threatening disasters, such as those linked to undetected structural damage (e.g., the catastrophic impact damage from loose tiles on space shuttle Columbia). The active antimicrobial protection will sterilize robots, machines, or wearable garments in sterile or contaminated environments. The industrial and artistic collaborators will provide materials and guidance to the research team working toward commercially viable processing and assembly. Undergraduate and high school students will have opportunities to build paper-based devices with skin-like sensing through their participation in the Rutgers Honors College, Byrne Seminars, Aresty Research Center, and the New Jersey Governor's School of Engineering and Technology. The research objective of this GOALI proposal is to create scalable, skin-like sensing devices made of tunable paper-based composites with capabilities of sensing touch, measuring spatial distributions of forces, and providing plasma-based sterilization. The fabricated devices will consist of embossed piezoresistive paper sandwiched between two layers of metallized paper. The sensing mechanisms will be passive and interface with an array of attached electrodes. A central hypothesis is that tunable porosity near a critical/percolation threshold in cellulose-based composites containing conductive nanofillers that will dominate large transitions in electromechanical properties in both mechanically elastic and plastic regimes of strain. The specific tasks will include (i) fabrication and imprint lithography of tunable, piezoresistive paper; (ii) modeling electrical properties in paper-based composites bridging the meso and nano scales; (iii) mechanical modeling and characterization to establish design rules for imprint lithography; (iv) disinfecting mechanisms of plasma-based sterilizers with metallized paper; and (v) stacked integration of multiple layers of paper-based materials for combined sensing of touch, pressure, and plasma-based sterilization.
Effective start/end date6/1/165/31/19


  • National Science Foundation (National Science Foundation (NSF))


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