Soon, patients will be able to wear a tattoo-like thin device (an artificial skin) that can store their information, transmit data about their movements, receive diagnostic information and release drugs into their skin.
Patients with movement disorders like Parkinson’s disease or epilepsy can benefit from this technology. What we are talking here is a “sticky patch containing a device roughly four centimetres long, two cm wide and 0.003 millimetres thick”, said Nanshu Lu, a mechanical engineer at University of Texas in Austin.
A package of stretchable nanomaterials was layered and constructed into a device by the researchers. These nanomaterials are sensors that detect temperature and motion, resistive RAM for data storage, microheaters and drugs - onto a material that mimics the softness and flexibility of the skin.
“The novelty is really in the integration of the memory device,” Stephanie Lacour, an engineer at Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, added.
When the device is connected to a power supply and data transmitter, it works. Both teh supply and transmitter need to be made similarly compact and flexible before the prototype can be used routinely in patients.
“Although some commercially available components, such as lithium batteries and radio-frequency identification tags can do this work, they are too rigid for the soft-as-skin brand of electronic device,” Lu explained.
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