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Engineering Artificial Skin

Human skin is extraordinarily sensitive – our fingertips can perceive extremely small differences in pressure, texture, and temperature. Mimicking this ability artificially is a real technological challenge, but fortunately electrical engineers at Stanford and UC Berkeley seem to be up to the task.

At Stanford, a team led by chemical engineering professor Zhenan Bao has developed an artificial skin that is reportedly over 1,000 times more sensitive than its human counterpart. It consists of a thin rubber material placed between two parallel electrodes. When an object touches the skin and compresses the rubber, the surrounding electrodes register this pressure and convert it to electrical signals.

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Spray-On Solar Cells Could Supercharge Your Windows

Installing solar panels on the roof of buildings has become very en vogue recently.  But in a few years charging up your home might be cheaper and easier than ever.

The Norwegian company EnSol AS has developed a thin, transparent solar film that can be sprayed onto windows and other surfaces, rendering them able to absorb the sun’s energy just as efficiently as solar panels.

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An Unlikely Weapon Against Chemical Warfare

Biomimicry is back again, and this time butterflies are the source of imitation.

The Morpho butterfly possesses acute chemical-sensing abilities thanks to nano-level structures underneath the colorful scales on its wings.

The submicroscopic structures can pick up even the smallest trace of airborne chemicals and the exposure changes the spectral reflectivity of the butterfly’s wings.

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Tattoos That Can Monitor Your Health

Not everyone thinks that getting a tattoo is cool.  But a tattoo that can keep you healthy sounds pretty awesome.

Designed for diabetics, tattoos using a nanoparticle ink created by MIT researchers monitor the level of glucose in the bloodstream.

For diabetics (who make up about 2.8% of the population worldwide), continuously keeping an eye on their blood sugar level is important because they could miss the moment when their levels start to change, such as after eating.

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Video: Nanotechnology Takes Off

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