Tuesday, March 27, 2012

US Patent 8142516 - Self-cleaning skin-line prosthetic using nanotubes


This patent from UT-Battelle teaches using carbon nanotubes to improve the thermal conductivity of synthetic skin-like polymers for prosthetic devices. Claim 1 reads: 

1. An external covering for hiding the internal endoskeleton of a mechanical device that provides skin-like qualities, the external covering comprising:

an internal bulk layer having a first side and a second side with the first side being in contact with the internal endoskeleton of the mechanical device; and

an external skin layer comprising a polymer composite with carbon nanotubes embedded therein disposed about the second side of the bulk layer, the orientation and spacing of the carbon nanotubes being predetermined to provide the skin layer with a gradient of mechanical properties;

the skin layer having an inner surface and an outer surface;

the inner surface being in contact with the bulk layer and the outer surface having multiple cone-shaped projections;

wherein the cone-shaped projections provide the external skin layer with superhydrophobicity, while the embedded carbon nanotubes provide the skin layer with enhanced thermal conductivity;

wherein the external skin layer has a higher level of toughness than the internal bulk layer.