More and more things are technologies that, after being dreamed of in futuristic films and series, end up coming to reality. Advances such as that of researchers at Cornell University, who have created a fiber optic sensor using LEDs and dyes, resulting an elastic material similar to human skin, capable of detecting deformations, pressure, bending and even force and effort.
A system that opens the doors to the development of sensitive robotic system applications, allowing robots to implement the sense of touch; as well as a wide field for augmented reality, allowing us to perceive sensations similar to those we would feel with touch in the real world, through interaction with purely digital elements.
However, from Cornell University they clarify that this technology could also have other useful applications in medicine, currently working to create a use applied to physiotherapy and other sports fields.
Building on previous extensible sensor work created in the lab of Rob Shepherd, who also led the team on the new Cornell University research, researcher Hedan Bai’s new project focuses on the use of silica-based fiber optic sensors capable of detecting minor wavelength changes as a way to identify multiple properties, including changes in humidity, temperature and voltage.
However, these silica fibers are initially incompatible with soft and elastic electronics, so Shepherd chose to create an extendable light guide for multimodal detection sensor (called SLIMS), through a long tube that contains a pair of elastomeric polyurethane cores.
In this way, while one core remains transparent, the other is filled with absorbent dyes in multiple locations connected to an LED, coupled with an RGB sensor chip. able to record geometric changes in the optical path of light.
Using a dual-core design increases the number of outputs that the sensor can use for detect a variety of deformations, including pressure, bending, or elongation. It indicates deformations by lighting the tint, which acts as a spatial encoder. The technology is combined with a mathematical model capable of decoupling the different deformations and pinpointing their exact location and magnitude.
In addition, these SLIM sensors can operate with small optoelectronics with lower resolution, which makes their creation process noticeably less expensive and easier to manufacture and integrate into systems.