By Devin Coldewey
July 10, 2013
A new development in nanotechnology may enable "electronic skin" for robots and prosthetic limbs, offering sensitivity not just to pressure, but to humidity and temperature — and it's even flexible.
The new material is developed by chemical engineers at the Israel Institute of Technology, who found that a certain type of gold nanoparticle changed how it conducted electricity based on pressure.
These nanoparticles are only 5-8 nanometers in diameter, comprising a gold core and a spiky, protective outer layer. When sandwiched into a special film, the way that film is bent or pressed may cause the nanoparticles to spread out or bunch together, changing how well electricity passes between them.