Researchers develop octopus-inspired smart adhesive sensors

Seoul, July 14 (IANS) A team of researchers from South Korea has developed a flexible pressure sensor by mimicking the suction cups on octopus’s tentacles.

Researchers from Ulsan National Institute Of Science And Technology (UNIST) and Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) explained how they studied the adhesive mechanism of octopus suckers and used it to develop a new type of suction based adhesive material.

“Although flexible pressure sensors might give future prosthetics and robots a better sense of touch, building them requires a lot of laborious transferring of nano- and microribbons of inorganic semiconductor materials onto polymer sheets,” the authors noted.

An octopus uses suction cups underneath each tentacle to grab onto something. Each suction cup contains a cavity whose pressure is controlled by surrounding muscles.

These can be made thinner or thicker on demand, increasing or decreasing air pressure inside the cup, allowing for sucking and releasing as desired.

By mimicking muscle actuation to control cavity-pressure-induced adhesion of octopus suckers, Hyunhyub Ko from UNIST used a unique rubbery material to create an array of microscale suckers, which included pores that are coated with a thermally responsive polymer to create sucker-like walls.

The team made some indium gallium arsenide transistors that sat on a flexible substrate and also used it to move some nanomaterials to a different type of flexible material.

The team hope that their product can be used as the substrate for wearable health sensors or band aids that stick to the skin at normal body temperatures but fall off when rinsed under cold water.

The study was published in the journal Advanced Materials.



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