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Nanomesh pressure sensor for monitoring finger manipulation without sensory interference

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Science  20 Nov 2020:
Vol. 370, Issue 6519, pp. 966-970
DOI: 10.1126/science.abc9735

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A soft touch

Measuring the force it takes for a hand to grasp an object requires sensors to be placed on the fingertips, but these sensors will interfere with or affect how much force ends up being applied. Lee et al. developed a nanomesh sensor built from a series of electrospun materials (see the Perspective by Liu). Using a robotic tester, they show that this device can repeatably detect the pressure involved in gripping an object. They also show that the sensors can be attached to human fingers and that this does not affect the force used to grasp an object.

Science, this issue p. 966; see also p. 910

Abstract

Monitoring of finger manipulation without disturbing the inherent functionalities is critical to understand the sense of natural touch. However, worn or attached sensors affect the natural feeling of the skin. We developed nanomesh pressure sensors that can monitor finger pressure without detectable effects on human sensation. The effect of the sensor on human sensation was quantitatively investigated, and the sensor-applied finger exhibits comparable grip forces with those of the bare finger, even though the attachment of a 2-micrometer-thick polymeric film results in a 14% increase in the grip force after adjusting for friction. Simultaneously, the sensor exhibits an extreme mechanical durability against cyclic shearing and friction greater than hundreds of kilopascals.

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