Engineers and scientists from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and ETH Zurich have developed a temperature detecting artificial skin that could be used for prosthetic limbs in amputees.
A team led by Chiara Daraio at Caltech created a material from fabricating synthetic woods in a petri dish; the material has an electrical response to temperature changes. The scientists discovered that it was pectin, a long-chain molecule in plant cell walls, that was responsible for temperature sensitivity.
“Pectin is widely used in the food industry as a jellifying agent; it’s what you use to make jam. So it’s easy to obtain and also very cheap,” says Daraio, a professor of mechanical engineering and applied physics.