(HealthDay News) – A new material that can self-heal and is pressure- and flexion-sensitive could be used as an electronic skin, according to a study published online Nov. 11 in Nature Nanotechnology.

To design a material that could sense pressure and heal like human skin, Benjamin Chee-Keong Tee, from Stanford University in California, and colleagues created a composite organic polymer embedded with nickel nanostructured microparticles.

The researchers found that the material was self-healing at ambient temperatures, regaining nearly all of its original strength and electrical conductivity within about 10 minutes after rupture. The same sample could also withstand being ruptured in the same place and repaired repeatedly. The electrical conductivity could reach values as high as 40 S per cm−1 by varying the amount of nickel particles. The material was also pressure- and flexion-sensitive and, when placed on a humanoid mannequin, the material could detect varying pressures and changes in the positions of the limbs.

“These results demonstrate that natural skin’s repeatable self-healing capability can be mimicked in conductive and piezoresistive materials, thus potentially expanding the scope of applications of current electronic skin systems,” Tee and colleagues conclude.

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