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High-Resolution Thin-Film Device to Sense Texture by Touch

Science  09 Jun 2006:
Vol. 312, Issue 5779, pp. 1501-1504
DOI: 10.1126/science.1126216

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Abstract

Touch (or tactile) sensors are gaining renewed interest as the level of sophistication in the application of minimum invasive surgery and humanoid robots increases. The spatial resolution of current large-area (greater than 1 cm2) tactile sensor lags by more than an order of magnitude compared with the human finger. By using metal and semiconducting nanoparticles, a ∼100-nm-thick, large-area thin-film device is self-assembled such that the change in current density through the film and the electroluminescent light intensity are linearly proportional to the local stress. A stress image is obtained by pressing a copper grid and a United States 1-cent coin on the device and focusing the resulting electroluminescent light directly on the charge-coupled device. Both the lateral and height resolution of texture are comparable to the human finger at similar stress levels of ∼10 kilopascals.

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