Researchers from the Beijing Advanced Innovation Center for Materials Genome Engineering (University of Science and Technology Beijing), have developed a new programmable, self-powered electronic skin for touch applications. Dubbed SUE-skin, the interactive e-skin offers a stretchable structure based on a triboelectric-optical model, which uses a TENG (Transient Triboelectric Nanogenerator) that simultaneously converts touch stimuli into electrical signals and real-time visible lights without the need for an external power supply.
The researchers paired the electronic skin with a microcontroller, making it a programmable touch platform capable of recognizing more than 156 interaction logics, which can be applied to consumer devices. The technology would also be relevant for gestural control, augmented reality, and intelligent prosthesis applications. Not only does SUE-skin allow for touch inputs, but it displays visible light when physical inputs (press, swipe, etc.) are used, along with touch-track mapping via superimposing electrical and optical signals.
The luminescent light features a 1,000 cycle repeatability and was created using a material containing a phosphor layer, an aluminum electrode, an insulating layer, a shield layer, and a PDMS (Polydimethylsiloxane) substrate, which can deform in any number of shapes to conform to human skin. The researchers demonstrated the ability of their interactive SUE-skin by controlling an audio and display module to play the Eagles’ hit single Hotel California, and were able to increase the speed of the song by swiping in one direction, and reducing it to normal speed (or pausing the song) using another.