Carbon nanotubes could be used to create a bionic sense of touch (Photo: Mstroeck)
The human body is an amazingly complex bit of kit. Replicating it with bionic technology presents challenges on many fronts, including the formidable task of mimicking our sense of touch. This goal could now be a little closer thanks to a breakthrough in carbon nanotube processing by scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Borrowing from conventional methods of making glass fiber, the researchers managed to cram 19,600 individual carbon nanotube-containing channels into fibers just four times thicker than a human hair, putting the artificial structure on a scale similar to the tiny neural bundles that make up our nerve pathways.