Researchers have developed first synthetic skin that is both sensitive to touch and capable of healing itself quickly and repeatedly at room temperature.
The finding could lead to smarter prosthetics or resilient personal electronics that repair themselves. Stanford University Professor Zhenan Bao and her team have succeeded in making the first material that can both sense subtle pressure and heal itself when torn or cut.
In the last decade, there have been major advances in synthetic skin, said Bao, but even the most effective self-healing materials had major drawbacks.
Some had to be exposed to high temperatures, making them impractical for day-to-day use.
Others could heal at room temperature, but repairing a cut changed their mechanical or chemical structure, so they could only heal themselves once.
Most importantly, no self-healing material was a good bulk conductor of electricity, a crucial property.