Newly discovered smart pressure sensors are inspired by octopus

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A team of researchers based in Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) and Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST)┬áhas reportedly developed a flexible pressure smart adhesive sensor by imitating the suction cups on octopus’s tentacles. They explained the various techniques used to study the adhesive mechanism of octopus suckers, which are used to develop a new type of suction based adhesive material.

Commenting on the discovery, the researchers revealed that flexible pressure sensors might provide great prosthetics for the future. Moreover, the robots will be able to feel a better sense of touch. The team disclosed that building adhesive sensors requires a great amount of work by transferring nano and micro-ribbons of inorganic semiconductor materials onto polymer sheets.

According to reports, an octopus normally makes use of suction cups under each tentacle to fetch some resource. You should note that each suction cup consists of a cavity whose pressure is controlled by surrounding muscles, which can be either thinner or thicker. Moreover, the cup can be manufactured either by increasing or decreasing air pressure inside the cup, which provides the ability to suck and release as per demand.

During the course of research, Hyunhyub Ko from UNIST employed a unique rubbery material to create an array of microscale suckers, which are coated with a thermally responsive polymer to create sucker-like walls. Interestingly, Ko mimicked muscle actuation so that the cavity-pressure inside octopus suckers can be effectively controlled.

In the meantime, the researchers developed minute transistors made from indium gallium arsenide, which is placed on a flexible substrate. The team also used the material to migrate few nanomaterials to a completely different type of flexible material.

In future, the developed product can be used as the spare part for wearable health sensors, which are attached to the skin at normal body temperatures but eventually fall off when washed or rinsed with cold water.

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