Pain is one of the most well-known feelings a human can sense throughout their lifetime. The main organ that is responsible for registering this is the skin and underneath it the countless number of neurons that help detect it through a series of electric impulses that travel at lightning speed from a point in our bodies to the brain. This helps us feel the general feeling of discomfort caused by let’s say a mosquito bite to touching a hot mug containing freshly-brewed coffee. You might think that this is only unique to us humans (there are several research conducted around the globe to be able to know whether animals too feel pain), however, a team of Australian scientists has recreated this sensation in an artificial skin they have crafted.
Hailing from RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, the group of researchers has devised the artificial skin to act like our skin and how it perceives pain. In a report by Victor Tangermann on Futurism, the device invented by the team replicates the nerve pathways that are present in the human body and its behavior – that is to be able to register information and send it to the brain or a central computing device at lightning speed to get a feedback response.
The team made three different prototypes of varying thickness, with the thinnest being a thousand times thinner than one human hair strand! These three also perceive different changes at varying levels of pressure, heat, or any other force exerted on each of them.
The study’s lead author and RMIT researcher, Ataur Rahman, lauded his team’s findings and said that they were able to achieve this feat that was never been done before in the field of electronics. He shared in the same Futurism report that the artificial skin that they have invented is able to distinguish the difference between a gentle touch of a pin on the skin or, otherwise, an accidental stabbing of it.
In line with this, the research team hopes that with their findings, they will be able to help improve the current knowledge and practices done in the field of prosthetics. Also, they envision that their discovery will help to provide better skin grafts options for burn victims and other patients suffering a skin ailment needing a transplant.
The team’s detailed findings are available online in the journal Advanced Intelligent Systems. You can view it by clicking here.