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How Can the New Magnetic Sensor System Contribute to the Robotics Field?

By Enterprise Technology Review | Tuesday, January 28, 2020

An active matrix magnetic sensor system has been developed by scientists that can expedite the development of flexible skin for robotics applications.

FREMONT, CA: The sensor industry is expanding at an exponential rate. Recently, scientists have come up with an active matrix magnetic sensor system, which consists of a 2 x 4 range of magnetic sensors, an organic bootstrap register needed for controlling the sensor matrix, and organic signal amplifiers. All the electronic components are incorporation within one platform and are based on organic thin-film transistors.

Recent advancements in organic electronics and flexible sensors have given essential prerequisites for artificial skin utilized in robotics applications. These devices are capable of operating on soft and elastic surfaces, whereas sensors perceive several physical properties and transfer them via readout circuits.

In order to closely imitate natural skin, the interconnectivity of a large number of individual sensors is necessary. The first demonstrations were based on a range of individual sensors managed separately, of which the outcome was a considerable number of electronic connections. For reducing the necessary wiring, it was important to develop technology that included complex electronic circuits, and present sources, and switches had to be integrated with individual magnetic sensors for obtaining complete integrated devices.

The new sensor system demonstrated its high magnetic sensitivity and its capability of acquiring the two-dimensional magnetic field distribution in real-time. Besides, the sensor system can resist mechanical deformation like creasing, bending, or kinking. In addition to the incorporation of the full system, the usage of organic bootstrap shift registers is a very crucial development step toward active-matrix electronic skin for robotic and wearable applications.

The first incorporated magnetic functionalities have proven that it is possible to integrate thin-film agile magnetic sensors within intricate organic circuits. The flexible and ultra-compliant behavior of these devices is an indispensable characteristic for modern and future applications like soft robotics, implants, and prosthetics. The next step that researchers are planning is to increase the number of sensors per surface area and expand the electronic skin in order to fit larger surfaces.

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