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Tactile Sensor for Robot Skin Advanced by KAIST Team
The joint research team of Professors Jung Kim and Inkyu Park from the Department of Mechanical Engineering developed a tactile sensor that can act as skin for robots using silicon and carbon materials. This technology produced a sensor that can absorb shock and distinguish various forms of touch, and it is hoped to be used as robot skin in the future. Skin serves an important role as the largest organ of the human body. As well as protecting major organs from external shock, skin also measures and distinguishes delicate tactile information and transfer it to the nervous system. Current robotic sensory technology allows robots to have visual and auditory systems at nearly similar levels to human capacity, but there are limitations in tactile sensors that can detect changes in the environment throughout the body. To apply skin with similar functions as humans to robots, it is essential to develop skin sensor technology with high flexibility and high shock absorption. Another limitation for developing robot skin was connecting numerous sensors all over the body using electric wiring. To overcome this problem, the research team combined silicon and carbon nanotubes (CNT) to produce a composite, which was then used in combination with a medical imaging technique called electrical impedance tomography (EIT). This led to technology that can distinguish various forms of force over a large area without electrical wiring. The sensing material can distinguish the location and the size of various forms by touch, and thus can be applied to robot skin that can absorb shock as well as serves as a 3D computer interface and tactile sensor. It can withstand strong force such as a hammer strike, and can be re-used even after partial damage to the sensor by filling and hardening the damaged region with composite. Further, the sensor can be made by filling a 3D shape frame with silicon-nanotube composite. Using this technology, new forms of computer interaces can be developed with both curbed and flat surfaces. This research was conducted through a collaboration between Professor Park, an expert in nanostructures and sensors, and Professor Kim, an expert in bio-robotics. Hence, the technology is likely to be applied in real products. Professor Kim said, “Flexible tactile sensors can not only be directly adhered to the body, but they also provides information on modified states in multiple dimensions”. He continued, “This technology will contribute to the soft robot industry in the areas of robot skin and the field of wearable medical appliances.” Professor Park said, “This technology implemented a next-generation user interface through the integration of functional nano-composite material and computer tomography.” This research was published in Scientific Reports, a sister journal of Nature, online on January 25. This research was conducted as joint research by first author Hyo-Sang Lee, as well as Donguk Kwon and Ji-seung Cho, and was funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning. (Fiigrue 1: Robotic hand responding to resistance via a connection with the developed tactile sensor) (Figure 2: Manufacturing process for pressure-resistant composite using silicon rubber and carbon nanotubes) (Figure 3: Computer interface using pressure-resistant composite)
From Pencil Lead to Batteries: the Unlimited Transformation of Carbon
Those materials, like lead or diamond, made completely up of Carbon are being used in numerous ways as materials or parts. Especially with the discovery of carbon nanotubes, graphemes, and other carbon based materials in nanoscale, the carbon based materials are receiving a lot of interest in both fields of research and industry. The carbon nanotubes and graphemes are considered as the ‘dream material’ and have a structure of a cross section of a bee hive. Such structure allows the material to have strength higher than that of a diamond and still be able to bend, be transparent and also conduct electricity. However the problem up till now was that these carbon structures appeared in layers and in bunches and were therefore hard to separate to individual layers or tubes. Professor Kim Sang Wook’s research team developed the technology that can assemble the grapheme and carbon nanotubes in a three dimensional manner. The team was able to assemble the grapheme ad carbon nanotubes in an entirely new three dimensional structure. In addition, the team was able to efficiently extract single layered grapheme from cheap pencil lead. Professor Kim is scheduled to give a guest lecture in the “Materials Research Society” in San Francisco and the paper was published in ‘Advanced Functional Materials’ magazine as an ‘Invited Feature Article’.
KAIST Research Team Discovers Process for Rapid Growth of N-Doped CNT Arrays
A team of scientists led by Profs. Sang-Ouk Kim, Won-Jong Lee and Duck-Hyun Lee of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering has found a straightforward process for rapid growth of wall-number selected, nitrogen-doped carbon nanotube (CNT) arrays, university officials said on Monday (March 16). KAIST researchers prepared highly uniform nanopatterned iron catalyst arrays by tilted deposition through block copolymer nanotemplates. This remarkably fast growth of highly uniform N-doped CNTs, whose material properties and chemical functionalizability are reinforced by N-doping, offers a new area of a large-scale nanofabrication, potentially useful for diverse nano-devices. Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are of broad technical interest in electronics, photonics, energy devices, and other applications. However, establishing a straightforward process for mass production of uniform CNTs with desired structure and properties has been a long-standing challenge. In particular, it was strongly desired to precisely control the numbers of walls and diameter of CNTs, which are decisive parameters for the physical properties of CNTs. In this respect, the preparation of monodisperse catalyst array having a narrow size distribution is generally considered an effective pathway to produce well-defined CNTs, since the number of walls and diameter of the produced CNTs are closely related to the catalyst size. The finding was featured in the March 13 edition of Nano Letters, a leading journal in the nano technology field.
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