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In this issue:
An Artificial Skin Sensitive Enough to Be Bothered by a Fly
Colloquium Today: LCLS, One Year after the X -ray Laser Turned On

SLAC Today

Monday - November 29, 2010

An Artificial Skin Sensitive Enough to Be Bothered by a Fly

An artificial skin based on an elastic material called PDMS can "feel" the presence of very light objects. (Image courtesy the researchers.)

A desire to create machines that can explore their environments, as people do through the sensations of feeling and touch, has inspired researchers to develop artificial skin. An ideal electronic skin would be flexible and sensitive to even gentle touches, such as the weight of an insect. Such a touch-sensitive material could be used for human prosthetics, sensory input devices for robotics, and applications in which the biologic and electronic communicate.

A team of researchers led by Professor Zhenan Bao of Stanford University and Stefan Mannsfeld of the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource at SLAC used a thin sheet of rubber between very thin electrodes to make flexible pressure sensors that can be paper-thin. To make the rubber sheet more spongy and pressure-sensitive, millions of little structures were molded into it. As the rubber film deforms under pressure, the electrodes move closer or further from each other, resulting in a change of charge that can register as "feeling." The researchers found their material to be sensitive enough to detect a fly and fast enough to provide reaction times comparable to human response times.

This research was published in the October issue of Nature Materials.

To learn more about this research see the full scientific highlight.

Colloquium Today: LCLS, One Year after the X -ray Laser Turned On

(Image - SLAC Colloquium banner)

Today at 4:15 p.m. in Panofsky Auditorium, Deputy Director for the Linac Coherent Light Source Uwe Bergman will present "LCLS, One Year after the X -ray Laser Turned On."

On April 10, 2009, the world’s first hard X-ray free-electron laser was brought to lasing. Producing an X-ray beam with more than a billion times higher peak brightness than the most powerful existing synchrotron sources, it marked the beginning of a new era of science. The LCLS pulses arrive at a rate of 60-120 Hz in an energy range from 480 eV to 10 keV, with pulse lengths as short as a few to about 300 femtoseconds. Since October 2009, users have been performing experiments at the LCLS, and currently three of the six planned instruments are available. Although we stand only at the beginning of LCLS science, there is no doubt about the strong sense of early excitement. This talk will describe the LCLS and its unique new capabilities, followed by some examples of the first experiments, and finish with an outlook of future plans in the short as well as the long term.

The LCLS Undulator Hall.
(Photo by Mike Zurawel.)

Uwe Bergmann, a graduate from Stony Brook University, is a senior staff scientist at SLAC and the deputy director of the Linac Coherent Light Source. His research activities have focused on the development and application of novel X-ray spectroscopic techniques. His scientific interests include studies of the structure of water and water-based solutions, active centers in metalloproteins, in particular the splitting of water in photosynthesis, hydrocarbons and fossil fuels and imaging of ancient documents and fossils. Bergmann did his graduate research at the National Synchrotron Light Source and since worked at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource and now the Linac Coherent Light Source. He has also been a long-time user of the Advanced Photon Source.

The colloquium is free and open to all.

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