E-Tattoos vs. E-Skins

Event Date: February 16, 2023
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Nanshu Lu Frank and Kay Reese Professor UT Austin
Seminar: February 16, 2023 - 10:30 AM, ME 2054
Q&A Immediately Following—11:30 AM

E-Tattoos vs. E-Skins


My research vision is that future humans will be more like robots (i.e., digital, computational, cyber, etc.) whereas robots will be more like humans (i.e., soft, human-like sensation, artificial intelligence, etc.). This talk introduces my research on the mechanics, materials, bio-integration and functionalities of soft electronics based on inorganic electronic materials such as metals, silicon, carbon nanotubes (CNT), and graphene. In particular, epidermal electronics, a.k.a. e-tattoos, represent a class of stretchable circuits, sensors, and stimulators that are ultrathin, ultrasoft, and skin-conformable but noninvasive. My group has invented a dry and freeform “cut-and-paste” method for the rapid prototyping of multimodal, wireless, or very large area e-tattoos that offer high-fidelity, distributed biometric sensing and long-term wearability. While e-tattoos are for human wear, e-skins are to be put on robots for them to imitate human sensations. Despite decades of research, soft capacitive pressure sensors still suffer from two bottlenecks – declined sensitivity with increasing pressure and coupled pressure-stretch responses. We therefore engineered a stretchable and ultrasensitive e-skin based on hybrid piezoresistive and piezocapacitive responses. The hybrid response has been theoretically understood such that optimal CNT doping and AC frequency for capacitance measurement can be determined. The stretchable e-skin has pressure responses trivializing the stretch responses and hence enables an inflatable smart finger with tunable shape and stiffness to perform a variety of tasks.


Dr. Nanshu Lu is the Frank and Kay Reese Professor at the University of Texas at Austin. She received her B.Eng. with honors from Tsinghua University, Beijing, Ph.D. from Harvard University, and then Beckman Postdoctoral Fellowship at UIUC. Her research concerns the mechanics, materials, manufacture, and human / robot integration of soft electronics. She is an ASME fellow and a Clarivate (Web of Science) highly cited researcher. She is currently an Associate Editor of Nano Letters and Journal of Applied Mechanics. She has been named 35 innovators under 35 by MIT Technology Review (TR 35) and iCANX/ACS Nano Inaugural Rising Star. She has received US NSF CAREER Award, US ONR and AFOSR Young Investigator Awards, 3M non-tenured faculty award, and the 2022 Thomas J.R. Hughes Young Investigator Award from the ASME Applied Mechanics Division. She has been selected as one of the five great innovators on campus and five world-changing women at the University of Texas at Austin. For more information, please visit Dr. Lu’s research group webpage at https://sites.utexas.edu/nanshulu/ and follow her Twitter: @nanshulu.