From Popular Science to Research Project – Part 2

In the last part we found an interesting popular science story, and traced it back to the original scientific article.

Once you have access to the article, jump straight to the conclusion section. Here is a quote from it:

Skin cream changed the properties of the skin surface. The presence of the cream film caused an increase in the surface film thickness; this led to an increase in the adhesive force and friction force. The skin cream also reduced the surface roughness, increased the hydrophilic properties of the skin, and softened the skin surface.

On the basis of the surface and friction properties, the synthetic skins were good simulations of rat skin. After treatment with skin cream, the trends of the properties of the two synthetic skins and rat skin were comparable. The methodology presented here can act as a good reference for researchers to evaluate the surface, frictional, and mechanical properties of synthetic skins.

And here is your research project. If you get the equipment and follow the methods describe in the other parts of the paper, you could find various physical properties of synthetic skins. You could also find out how different creams, and other materials (including many household products) physically affect these skins. Since these researchers showed synthetic skins behave in a similar way to real skin, this will teach you about how household products physically alter your skin. This seems pretty cool to me, but if you want more ideas:

  • combine this method with other papers that tell you how to make synthetic skins, so you can test skins you make yourself.
  • experiment with modifying household substances and test them on synthetic skins.
  • choose the synthetic skins that work best with the household products you own, and then put them on your robots.

The greatest thing about this method is that you know it can be done, but it is still exciting.

I look forward to reading your own research ideas, your suggestions for how to come up with projects, and general comments.

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