The flexible, transparent and self-healing skin of jellyfish and other gelatinous underwater invertebrates inspired researchers to replicate these properties in a material for use in soft robotics and water-resistant touchscreens.

The electrically conductive skin developed by researchers from National University of Singapore, Tsinghua University (China) and the University of California Riverside is composed of a fluorocarbon elastomer and a Design of a gel-like, aquatic, stretchable and self-healing electronic skin (GLASSES). Source: Yue Cao et al.Design of a gel-like, aquatic, stretchable and self-healing electronic skin (GLASSES). Source: Yue Cao et al.fluorine-rich ionic liquid, a combination that imparts self-healing functions due to highly reversible ion-dipole interactions. The self-repairing property is touted as a possible means of reducing the volumes of electronic waste generated worldwide. The material also retains its shape in marine, acidic, alkaline and even dry environments, unlike previously developed conductive polymer gels that dry out in air or swell when submerged in water.

The electronic skin is 3D printed into electronic circuits to form touch, pressure and strain sensors. In addition to applications in the design of amphibious robots, the material is being explored for use in optoelectronic devices under development for new human-machine communication interfaces.

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