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Skin-Like Prosthetic Polymer Surfaces

Artificial limbs help to restore normal function to amputees. Surface materials for prostheses need to look realistic, hold up to exposure, and mimic skin. ORNL scientists combined superhydrophobic polymer inventions with carbon nanotubes to create a self-cleaning skin-like surface material with the ability to transmit heat. This material provides an improved external covering for mechanical prosthetics.

The addition of embedded carbon nanotubes makes the ORNL prosthetic skin tougher, stronger, and more durable than conventional materials. This is a significant improvement over prosthetic materials that tend to wrinkle or distort when stretched or compressed. The vertically aligned carbon nanotubes help the surface material transmit heat much more easily than untreated polymers. In addition, the material can be adjusted for color and skin smoothness, which is highly desirable for aesthetic appeal.

To increase the superhydrophic properties of the material, the carbon nanotubes may be exposed to a high temperature annealing process. The material is also useful for forming molded shapes that include nano-patterned arrays.

Engineering Science and Technology Division, Materials Science and Technology Division
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Technology Commercialization Manager, Energy and Engineering Sciences
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Phone: 865.241.9485
Material Sciences
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