Ultra-flexible perceptual photonic-skin by using optical fiber as artificial mechanoreceptor

  • Sheng ZhangEmail author
  • Tao LiEmail author
  • Guo-Wei Lu
  • Yuta SunamiEmail author
Technical Paper


In this research, a photonic-skin is designed to mimic the tactile perception of real skin. The specimen is made of silicon elastomer and inserted with optical fiber. The optical fiber is an instinctive and alternative sensor of tactile perception with high sensitivity and reliability, and combination with silicone substrate enables high stretchability to have a high wearability. According to the experimental results of tactile tracking, the specimen demonstrates the ability to detect the physical motions like tapping, rubbing and twisting with distinguishable signals. Moreover, the experimental results of on-body mounted perceptual tests (throat, forearm, and finger) validate the wearability with a high sensitivity of vocal vibration, muscle stretching, and bending movements. The photonic-skin has the characteristic of good spatial resolution, high sensitivity, high stretchability which will have wide applications in humanoid, robotic sensing, biomonitoring, perceptual prosthetics, etc.



This work was supported by the Program for the Strategic Research Foundation at Private Universities (S1411010) and Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (C) (15K06033), both from Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT).

Author contributions

SZ and TL did most writing for the manuscript and literature studies. G-WL and YS contributed partial literature study and supervised the development of manuscript and evaluation.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

On the behalf of my co-authors, I declare that no significant existing or future competing for financial, professional or personal interests that might have influenced the performance or presentation of the work described in this manuscript.

Human and animal rights

All methods and experimental protocols on humans and/or the use of human tissue samples were approved by Tokai University and performed in accordance with relevant guidelines and regulations.

Informed consent

The informed consent was obtained from all subjects for both study participation and publication of identifying information and images.


  1. BegeJ S (1988) Plannar and finger-shaped optical tactile sensors for robotic applications. IEEE J Robot Autom 4(5):472–484CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bernardi L et al (2017) On the large strain deformation behavior of silicone-based elastomers for biomedical applications. Polym Test 58:189–198CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Chen X et al (2017) Flexible fiber-based hybrid nanogenerator for biomechanical energy harvesting and physiological monitoring. Nano Energy 38:43–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Current MI (2017) Ion implantation of advanced silicon devices: past, present and future. Mater Sci Semicond Process 62:13–22CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Djouhri L (2016) Adelta-fiber low threshold mechanoreceptors innervating mammalian hairy skin: a review of their receptive, electrophysiological and cytochemical properties in relation to Adelta-fiber high threshold mechanoreceptors. Neurosci Biobehav Rev 61:225–238CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Iacob M et al (2014) Preparation of electromechanically active silicone composites and some evaluations of their suitability for biomedical applications. Mater Sci Eng C Mater Biol Appl 43:392–402CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Jenstrom DT, Chen C (1989) A fiber optic microbend tactile sensor array. Sens Actuators 20(3):239–248CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Khanbareh H et al (2017) Large area and flexible micro-porous piezoelectric materials for soft robotic skin. Sens Actuators A 263:554–562CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Kim J et al (2014) Stretchable silicon nanoribbon electronics for skin prosthesis. Nat Commun 5:5747CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Leal AG, Frizera A, Pontes MJ (2017) Analytical model for a polymer optical fiber under dynamic bending. Opt Laser Technol 93:92–98CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Ma M et al (2017) Self-powered artificial electronic skin for high-resolution pressure sensing. Nano Energy 32:389–396CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. McGlone F, Wessberg J, Olausson H (2014) Discriminative and affective touch: sensing and feeling. Neuron 82(4):737–755CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Seminara L et al (2016) Towards integrating intelligence in electronic skin. Mechatronics 34:84–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Sohn KS et al (2017) An extremely simple macroscale electronic skin realized by deep machine learning. Sci Rep 7:1CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. TermehYousefi A et al (2017) Development of haptic based piezoresistive artificial fingertip: toward efficient tactile sensing systems for humanoids. Mater Sci Eng C Mater Biol Appl 77:1098–1103CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Woo SH, Lumpkin EA, Patapoutian A (2015) Merkel cells and neurons keep in touch. Trends Cell Biol 25(2):74–81CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Zhang S et al (2016) Selection of micro-fabrication techniques on stainless steel sheet for skin friction. Friction 4(2):89–104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Zimmerman A, Bai L, Ginty DD (2014) The gentle touch receptors of mammalian skin. Science 346(6212):950–954CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Micro/Nano Technology CenterTokai UniversityHiratsukaJapan
  2. 2.Division of Biomedical Engineering, Renal Division, Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical SchoolBrigham and Women’s HospitalCambridgeUSA
  3. 3.Institute of Innovative Science and TechnologyTokai UniversityHiratsukaJapan
  4. 4.Department of Mechanical EngineeringTokai UniversityHiratsukaJapan

Personalised recommendations