Scientists have developed a sensor that could lead to artificial skin to help patients suffering from burns. This study was published in the Advanced Materials on 28 January 2019.
Burn patients who have lost skin sensitivity or people having artificial organs can’t take these functions for granted. As a result, they end up in hurting themselves unknowingly.
This new sensor is developed by Abdelsalam Ahmed, an engineer from the University of Toronto, Chemists Islam Mosa from the University of Connecticut (UConn) and James Rusling from UConn and UConn health. They wanted to develop a sensor that could impersonate skin sensing properties.
This sensor designed by Mosa and his team is made of a silicone tube. This tube is enveloped in a copper wire and is filled with a fluid made from the nanoparticles of iron oxide. These tiny particles produce an electric current by rubbing motion inside the silicone tube.
This current is then picked up by the copper wire as a signal. When this tube experiences pressure by a hit, the nanoparticles move and the electric signal changes.
The sound waves and magnetic fields have the ability to change these signals. Also, the movement by a person can alter these signals. Thus there is a difference between the electrical signals produced when a person is running, walking, swimming or jumping.
The scientists believe that this metal skin could not only help burn victims feel again but also prevent workers from getting exposed to dangerously magnetic fields. The outer layer of the rubber is also water resistant.
Islam Mosa said, “It would be very cool if it had abilities human skin does not; for example, the ability to detect magnetic fields, sound waves, and abnormal behaviors.”
Mosa also said, “The inspiration was to make something durable that would last for a very long time, and could detect multiple hazards.”
According to a survey done by the World Health Organisation (WHO) every year nearly 1,80,000 people die due to severe burns.
Burns is a serious global health issue. In 2004, 11 million (approx. 1.1 crores) people were severely burned worldwide.
It is said that people working near unsafe cookstoves or open fire cooking are prone to high risk of burn. Also, workers working in hazardous places are more exposed to risk.
The scientists will soon test the sensor to detect heat and cold. The scientists are also trying to make the sensor in a flat layout which will be more like human skin.
These new artificial skin sensors could soon change the medical aspect and give hope to burn victims.