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Electronic Skin

September 8, 2011

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


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.

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.