Principal investigator: Lining Yao, Mohammad Islam

University: Carnegie Mellon University

Industry partners: AM21 Technologies

The ability to self-heal is emerging as a highly desired property in soft robotics, artificial muscles, synthetic skins, bio-monitoring systems, and functional wearables. However, development of self-healing electrical conductors for use in self-healing electronics and skin and self-healing actuators for use in synthetic muscles are often explored separately due to orthogonal material property requirements. Furthermore, realizing practical applications requires inexpensive fabrication of constituent components with diverse morphology and properties. This could be achieved by implementing additive manufacturing.

We propose investigating these additive manufacturing techniques and hybrid device designs of self-healing sensors and actuators. In particular, we will focus on wearable devices, also known as “Second Skin”. Depending on the use, these devices can be attached to human skin directly or function as the outer layer of other machined parts (e.g., sensors for prosthesis skin).

Working closely with our industrial partner AM21 Technologies, we will develop computationally guided approaches for the additive manufacturing of electrically actuated self-healing sensors and actuation/display systems. Since AM21 Technologies works closely with the Defense Industrial Base and National Security divisions on additive manufacturing of prosthesis and responsive tourniquets, we will focus our functional demos on these directions–an integrated sensing and self-tightening (actuation) tourniquet and self-healing sensor skin for prosthesis. The synthetic skins can be dismembered, reattached, and can self-heal even if they are damaged. Other applications for the synthetic skin could include health monitoring, communication, assistive technology, and the sports and entertainment industries.