We have developed a hyperelastic light emitting capacitor (HLEC) that can expand its surface area by >635% while actively emitting light and sensing this deformation. The center layer is a thin sheet of silicone with embedded ZnS phosphors that glow under a high electric field. Transparent, ionically conductive hydrogel electrodes sandwich the center dielectric layer.
Capacitors fabricated from soft materials give us the opportunity to design pressure sensitive skins for robots. In this work, we 3D printed these capacitors on top of pneumatic actuators. These sensors allow soft robots to feel external touch and their own shape.
Direct ink write 3D printing can be used to draw these sensors onto the skin of pneumatic actuators.
These sensors do not delaminate even under the large deformations of the underlying pneumatic actuators.
We were able to use these sensors to create a programmable, haptic interface with potential for use in prosthetics.