DGIST has announced on Wednesday, August 21 that Professor Jae Eun Jang’s team in the Department of Information and Communication Engineering has got hands-on developing electronic skin technology that, reportedly, can detect “prick” and “hot” pain sensations like humans.
This research result could be expected to have future applications in the development of humanoid robots and patients putting on prosthetic hands in the future.
Professor Jae Eun Jang’s team in result has developed a tactile sensor that can feel pain and temperature like human via a joint research with Professor Cheil Moon’s team in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Science, Professor Ji-Woong Choi’s team in the Department of Information and Communication Engineering, and Professor Hongsoo Choi’s team in the Department of Robotics Engineering.
The reported key strengths are that it has simplified the sensor structure and can measure pressure and temperature at the same time and can be applied to various tactile systems regardless of the measurement principle of the sensor.
For this, the research team focused on zinc oxide nano-wire (ZnO Nano-wire) technology, which was applied as a self-power tactile sensor that does not need a battery thanks to its piezoelectric effect, which generates electrical signals by detecting pressure. Also, a temperature sensor using the Seebeck effect was applied at the same time for one sensor to do two jobs.
The research team arranged electrodes on polyimide flexible substrate, grew the ZnO nano-wire, and could measure the piezoelectric effect by pressure and the Seebeck effect by a temperature change at the same time.
The research team also succeeded in developing a signal processing technique that judges the generation of pain signals considering the pressure level, stimulated area and temperature.
This attempt to mimic human’s five senses has probably led to the development of innovative electronic devices like the camera and TV, which are life-changing inventions. As a result, many scientists are continuously performing research to imitate tactile, olfactory, and palate senses and tactile sensing is expected to be the next mimetic technology for various reasons.
Currently, most tactile sensor researches are focusing on physical mimetic technologies that measure the pressure used for a robot to grab an object, but psychosensory tactile research on how to mimic human tactile feelings such as soft, smooth or rough has a long way to go.
Professor Jang in the Department of Information and Communication Engineering said
“We have developed a core base technology that can effectively detect pain, which is necessary for developing future-type tactile sensors. As an achievement of convergence research by experts in nanoengineering, electronic engineering, robotics engineering, and brain sciences, it will be widely applied in electronic skin that feels various senses as well as new human-machine interactions. If robots can also feel pain, our research will expand further into technology to control robots’ aggressive tendencies, which is one of the risk factors, and failure of AI systems.”
This research had the participation of combined M.S.-Ph.D. program student Minkyung Shim in the Department of Information and Communication Engineering as the first author and was published in the online edition of the internationally-renowned journal Soft Robotics on Tuesday, July 23.