Science News

Robotic Whiskers

A team of scientists at the University of California have taken inspiration from cat whiskers in order to develop extremely responsive sensors that could one day help robots to “sense” their surroundings.

These ‘whiskers’ are constructed through painting a thin layer of electrically-conductive carbon nanotubes and silver particles onto strands of silicon. The carbon nanotubes give them their electrical resistivity, while the silver particles use nanotechnology to make the matrix sensitive to mechanical strain, as the nanoparticles can carry tiny electrical currents that change when stretched. This means that they can respond to even the slightest pressure of a £5 note being laid on a table, and are 10 times more sensitive than previous designs.

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