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Research Article

Soft multifunctional neurological electronic skin through intrinsically stretchable synaptic transistor

Pengcheng Zhu1,§Shuairong Mu1,§Wenhao Huang1Zeye Sun2Yuyang Lin1Ke Chen1Zhifeng Pan1Mohsen Golbon Haghighi3Roya Sedghi3Junlei Wang2( )Yanchao Mao1( )
Key Laboratory of Materials Physics of Ministry of Education, School of Physics and Microelectronics, Zhengzhou University, Zhengzhou 450001, China
School of Mechanical and Power Engineering, Zhengzhou University, Zhengzhou 450001, China
Department of Chemistry, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran 1983969411, Iran

§ Pengcheng Zhu and Shuairong Mu contributed equally to this work.

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Graphical Abstract

A soft multifunctional neurological electronic skin (E-skin) (SMNE) comprised of a polymer semiconductor-based stretchable synaptic transistor and multiple soft artificial sensory receptors was demonstrated. The SMNE can effectively perceive force, thermal, and light stimuli that mimic the human neural system, enabling the robot to make precise actions in response to various external stimuli. This SMNE could offer a novel strategy for the development of E-skins for intelligent robot applications.

Abstract

Neurological electronic skin (E-skin) can process and transmit information in a distributed manner that achieves effective stimuli perception, holding great promise in neuroprosthetics and soft robotics. Neurological E-skin with multifunctional perception abilities can enable robots to precisely interact with the complex surrounding environment. However, current neurological E-skins that possess tactile, thermal, and visual perception abilities are usually prepared with rigid materials, bringing difficulties in realizing biologically synapse-like softness. Here, we report a soft multifunctional neurological E-skin (SMNE) comprised of a poly(3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT) nanofiber polymer semiconductor-based stretchable synaptic transistor and multiple soft artificial sensory receptors, which is capable of effectively perceiving force, thermal, and light stimuli. The stretchable synaptic transistor can convert electrical signals into transient channel currents analogous to the biological excitatory postsynaptic currents. And it also possesses both short-term and long-term synaptic plasticity that mimics the human memory system. By integrating a stretchable triboelectric nanogenerator, a soft thermoelectric device, and an elastic photodetector as artificial receptors, we further developed an SMNE that enables the robot to make precise actions in response to various surrounding stimuli. Compared with traditional neurological E-skin, our SMNE can maintain the softness and adaptability of biological synapses while perceiving multiple stimuli including force, temperature, and light. This SMNE could promote the advancement of E-skins for intelligent robot applications.

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Nano Research
Pages 6550-6559
Cite this article:
Zhu P, Mu S, Huang W, et al. Soft multifunctional neurological electronic skin through intrinsically stretchable synaptic transistor. Nano Research, 2024, 17(7): 6550-6559. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12274-024-6566-8
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Received: 26 December 2023
Revised: 01 February 2024
Accepted: 14 February 2024
Published: 17 May 2024
© Tsinghua University Press 2024
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