Artificial membranes biomimicking pit vipers' thermal sensing
Artificial membranes that are sensitive to temperature are needed in robotics to augment interactions with humans and the environment, and in bioengineering to improve prosthetic limbs. Existing flexible sensors achieved sensitivities of <100 mK, albeit within narrow (<5 K) temperature ranges. Other flexible devices, working in wider temperature ranges, exhibit orders of magnitude poorer responses. However, much more versatile and temperature sensitive membranes are found in animals such as pit vipers, whose pit membranes have the highest sensitivity in nature and are used to locate warm-blooded preys at distance. Here, we show that pectin films mimic the sensing mechanism of pit membranes and parallel their record performance. These films map temperature on surfaces with a sensitivity of <10 mK in a wide temperature range (40 K) and detect warm bodies at distance.
Submitted - 1512.01161.pdf