The skin is the largest organ in the human body and, beyond protecting the organism by imposing a barrier between the body and the environment, it also works as communication interphase with the external world by means of their perception capabilities for different stimuli such as touch, heat and cold, pain, etc. Therefore, the search for materials that allow restoring all of these functionalities, and in particular the sensory one, in cases of damage of the nervous endings or limb loss, is of extreme importance, not only for the bioengineering and biomedical fields, but also for other areas, such as robotics, wearable electronics and biosensors, which may be benefited by the development of new intelligent materials. The aim of this project is to study the electrical transport mechanisms in piezoresistive nanocomposites, which are one of the fundamental components for the development of artificial electronic skin. The principle of operation of these materials is still controversial. Although the quantum tunneling conduction has been pointed as the dominant mechanism, the various theories that describe this behavior cannot explain serious inconsistencies in existing models, such as the different dependencies of the piezoresistive effect with the temperature for different nanostructures (carbon nanotubes, grafeno, etc.) used as filling phase in the composites. This research will be performed using a new methodology for the analysis of the current-voltage spectroscopy technique developed in a previous project. The intention is to explore different geometries and topographies of the used materials, that can amplify the piezoresistive effect (giant piezoresistivity), as well as the incorporation of biosensors in artificial skins, extrapolating the sensory capacity of natural skin.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: