A Stanford researcher in US has developed a synthetic electronic ‘super skin’ that is solar powered, ultra-sensitive that can detect everything from touch to certain chemicals and could bring about huge technological advancements in the medical and technology sector. 
Stanford researcher Zhenan Bao has developed a stretchable, flexible sensors solar power cell system that are ultra sensitive to pressure and biological molecules that is capable of increasing and decreasing in size – much like human skin does that can generate their own electricity to power these sensors. The technology could be incorporated into artificial skin for robots and human prosthetic limbs, among other uses. These cells can be stretched up to 30 per cent beyond their original length, snapping back into shape without any loss of power or damage. "With artificial skin, we can basically incorporate any function we desire," Ms Bao explained.

Bao’s skin is part of a flexible organic chemistry that is built on a thin polymer layer; when pressure is applied to the skin, the current flowing through the transistors changes and the skin reacts by either contracting or expanding. "There are parts of the body, at the elbow for example, where movement stretches the skin and clothes. A device that was only flexible, not stretchable, would crack if bonded to parts of machines or of the body that extend when moved."

"Depending on what kind of material we put on the sensors and how we modify the semiconducting material in the transistor, we can adjust the sensors to sense chemicals or biological material," she remarked.

Researchers affirm the technology could permit future android robots to derive power from the sun and have touch sensitivity like a human being’s. The technology could also be used to help people regain feeling when using prosthetic limbs.

"You can imagine a robot hand that can be used to touch some liquid and detect certain markers or a certain protein that is associated with some kind of disease and the robot will be able to effectively say, ‘Oh, this person has that disease,’" said Bao. "Or the robot might touch the sweat from somebody and be able to say, ‘Oh, this person is drunk.’"