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Electronic Skin

September 8, 2011

Engineers have packed medical electronics into a thin, stretchy temporary tattoo.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):
An electronic second skin. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Skin-mounted medical devices like heart monitors are sometimes necessary, but often bulky and uncomfortable. Now, materials scientist John Rogers of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has taken many components of these devices – including sensors, solar cells, LEDs, transistors, and wireless antennas – and mounted them on an ultra-thin patch, like a temporary tattoo.

JOHN ROGERS (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign):
So it’s laminated on the skin, even without adhesives or pins or straps or tape. It stays well-adhered to the skin even as the skin is deformed, and twisted, and folded.

HIRSHON:
Although they’ve made electronic components that can function on the patch, there’s much more work to do. Eventually, though, Rogers says the patches could serve as comfortable, non-invasive monitors for a wide range of patients, from adults with sleep apnea to infants in intensive care. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.