Artificial nerves will make it possible to feel touch even through a prosthesis
Prosthetics may soon take on a whole new face. And this is thanks to the development of a new type of artificial nerve that senses touch, processes information and communicates with other nerves, just as natural nerves do.
The artificial sensory nerve, created at Stanford University, functions in a similar wayob, like natural nerves. It is made of flexible componentsoIn organic and consists of three parts. The results of the research appeared in the journal „Science”.
The first of these parts is a series of several dozen sensorow that receive pressure signals. Pressure on one of these sensorsow causes an increase in voltage between two electrodes. This change is then picked up by the other part, whichora converts voltage changes into a string of electrical impulsesow. This ring oscillator. Pulses are fed to a third device called a synaptic transistor, whichory sends out a series of pulsesoin electric in patterns, whichore in turn match those produced by biological neurons.
Future versions of the artificial nerve may be enhanced with sensors to track changes in texture, position and roof different types of pressure, potentially leading to dramatic improvements in the way people with artificial limbs sense and wspol interact with the environment.
– This is a huge advance – acknowledged Robert Shepherd, an expert in organic electronics from Cornell University. – The soft, flexible, organic materials used to create the artificial nerve are ideal for integration into flexible human tissue, but are roAlso relatively inexpensive to produce – added.
Modern prosthetics are already impressive. Someore solutions allow amputees to control the movements of artificial limbs using only their thoughts. Others have pressure sensors in their fingertipsow, whoore help control the grip, without having to constantly monitor the progress of theoin sight.
But our natural sense of touch is much more complex. Integrates thousands of sensorsoin, whichorotion of different types of pressure, as well as the ability to sense heat and changes in position. This vast amount of information is transported through local clusters of nerveoin to the spinal cord, and ultimately to the mozgu. Only when the signals combine to become strong enough do they form the next link in the chain.
Zhenan Bao, ktory led the research acknowledged that the artificial nerve they developed is sensitive enough to read Braille system signs’a. What’s more, they succeeded in linking an artificial neuron to the biological equivalent of a. When testingow the researchers deprived the cockroach of one of the nog. They installed an artificial neuron electrode in its place and connected it to a neuron in the cockroach’s leg. The signals from the artificial neuron caused the muscles nog have shrunk.
The organic electronics presented by the Stanford University researchers are cheap to produce, which should enable researchers to integrate a large number of artificial nerveoin, ktore could capture many types ofoIn sensory information. Such a system moheads to provide much more sensory information to people using prosthetics, helping them to better control their artificial limbs.
But the approach can also be applied to a new generation of roboticow. Such machines will have a greater ability to interact with the ever-changing environment. It is extremely important to perform complex tasks, such as caring for the elderly.