Recyclable E-Skin Recently Developed

Category: Technology/Innovations


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. malleable / ˈmæl i ə bəl / (adj) – can be stretched, bent, or extended

    Metals are malleable and can be shaped.

  2. prosthesis / prɒsˈθi sɪs / (n) – a device used to replace a part of the body that is injured or missing

    He started using a prosthesis after losing his leg.

  3. abrasion / əˈbreɪ ʒən / (n) – a cut or a scratch

    He got an abrasion on his forehead due to a car accident.

  4. beyond repair / biˈɒnd rɪˈpɛər / (idiom) – can no longer be repaired

    It was impossible to fix the car; it was beyond repair.

  5. vital signs / ˈvaɪt l saɪns / (n) – measurement shows the state of one’s body functions

    The nurse checked the patient’s vital signs before the surgery.


Read the text below.

Researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder (UCB) have created an electronic skin that is both recyclable and self-healing.

UCB’s e-skin is a thin and nearly transparent material used to imitate the functions of the human skin. The researchers designed the e-skin in hopes that it can be used in the fields of robotics and prosthetics. The current model is flexible and malleable, making it easier to fit any prostheses and robotic parts. This e-skin also has built-in sensors that make it sensitive to heat, pressure, and air.

The e-skin is made of a special kind of material called polyimine, which is known for its mechanical strength. When the e-skin sustains abrasions, nanoparticles attached to the polyimine recreate the chemical bonds between the cut pieces, thereby healing the e-skin. If the e-skin is damaged beyond repair, soaking it into a special recycling solution will dissolve the polyimine particles, which can be reused as the components of a new e-skin.

Other types of e-skin have also been recently developed. One of which is an e-skin created by researchers from the University of Tokyo. Unlike the previous e-skin, this one can be used by humans and can display vital signs. It is made of a material that contains micro-LEDs, which allow the device to display up-to-date information like heart rate, temperature, and blood pressure.

With this device, the researchers aim to help home care patients by replacing bulky gadgets that monitor their health condition. The manufacturer of the device hopes that this e-skin will be available in the next three years.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• In your opinion, should researchers create more recyclable medical devices like the e-skin? Why or why not?
• What do you think can be the other functions of an e-skin?

Discussion B

• Why do you think it is important to invent devices that mimic human body parts?
• If you were to create a device that imitates the appearance and function of a body part, what would it be? Give details.