Scientists have developed hair-thin electronic patches which stick to the skin in the same way that temporary tattoos stay put, making the transformation of not only medical sensors, but also other applications.
John A. Rogers of the University of Illinois, and Dae-Hyuong Kim, conducting ground-breaking research at the University of Illinois, have developed hair-thin electronic patches which stick to the skin in the same way that temporary tattoos stay put, making the transformation of not only medical sensors, but also other applications involving espionage and computer gaming a real probability in the future
This amazing micro-electronics technology, which the creators have dubbed the EES, or epidermal electronic system, is a unique new technology, crossing the boundaries between biology and electronics, by having the capability of integrating with the skin of the user in a mechanically and physiologically invisible way.
It would quite possibly mean that bulky electronic devices currently employed to various bodily functions would be replaced by much more user-friendly devices, even quite conceivably making life much betterfor those suffering from certain larynx conditions, possibly to forming the basis of a sub-vocal communication capability.
Being wireless, practically weightless and requiring so little power as to be capable of keeping itself active through miniature solar collectors, or collecting stray electromagnetic radiation, these patches,slightly thinner than a human hair, can stick to the skin without artificial help.
This is due to the same forces, known as Van der Waals interactions, which allow electronic tattoos to stick, through domination of adhesive properties at the molecular level. These tiny but important patches are every bit as soft as human skin, blending with it so seamlessly as to be barely noticable
Researchers Huang and Rogers, having for six years worked on the technology had already designed hemispherical camera sensor flexible electronics, focusing now on energy options, including battery power, for longer-life patches.
Future uses might involve treating sleep apnea sufferers, neonatal care for babies and creating electronic bandages to help skin heal. electronic sensors embedded within in a film only 50 microns thick, creating a sensor flexible enough to move with the skin and stick with no adhesive, staying in place for up to 14 days. Plans are being made for extending the technology to fixing methods that are much longer, but the bottom line is that patients should, in future years, find monitoring regimes far less intrusive and much more comfortable.