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Medical Monitoring With Flexible Electronic 'Tattoos'

These ultrathin microelectronic 'tattoos' cling to the skin and measure electrical activity in the body; they have a bright future in medicine.


(A flexible electronic device stuck on the skin)

John A. Rogers, a professor of materials science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has developed a prototype that can replicate the monitoring abilities of bulky electrocardiograms and other medical devices that are normally restricted to a clinical or laboratory setting. This work was presented today in Science.

To achieve flexible, stretchable electronics, Rogers employed a principle he had already used to achieve flexibility in substrates. He made the components—all composed of traditional, high-performance materials like silicon—not only incredibly thin, but also "structured into a serpentine shape" that allows them to deform without breaking. The result, says Rogers, is that "the whole system takes on this kind of spiderweb layout."

Consider the subdermal microchannels from the 1985 cyberpunk classic Stone Lives by Paul Di Filippo:

June's body is a tracery of lambent lines, like some arcane capillary circuitry in the core of Mao/K'ung Fu-Tzu. Following the current craze, she has had a subdermal pattern of micro-channels implanted. The channels are filled with synthetic luciferase, the biochemical responsible for the glow of fireflies.
(Read more about Di Filippo's Subdermal Microchannels)

Jack Vance fans might be thinking about the spray-on conductive film from his 1979 novel The Face.

Via Technology Review.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 8/11/2011)

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