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Stanford University material scientists have devised the first synthetic, plastic skin that is conductive, sensitive to touch, and capable of repeatedly self-healing at room temperature. The most immediate applications are in the realm of smart, self-healing prosthetic limbs that are covered in this synthetic skin — but in the long term, the plastic might be used to make self-healing electronic devices, or you might even elect to replace your fingertips (or other piece of skin) with the synthetic, bionic equivalent.
Researchers at the University of Michigan have now created a flexible microthread electrode (MTE) that is only 7 micrometers in diameter, and can be bent into a full circle with a diameter of just a few hundred microns. It consists of an electrospun carbon fiber core with a thin film dielectric coating that is nonreactive inside the body.
If neurons can later be guided into these custom-built myelin guide tubes, larger-scale brain-computer interfaces may become more feasible. As implant technologies become more user friendly we will begin to see BCIs and BMIs (brain-machine interfaces) migrate from external toy-like curiosities to essential internal components of the post-human machine.