‘Drawn-on-skin’ electronics can better track sensitive data in moving subjects

August 3, 2020
'Drawn-on-skin' electronics can better track sensitive data in moving subjects

Wearable bioelectronics monitors physiological information as a means to prevent and treat illness and injury. But even the most flexible wearables are unable to move precisely with the skin. A team of engineering researchers at the University of Houston, US, have developed new, drawn-on-skin electronics that seamlessly collect biological data, regardless of the wearer’s movements.

The drawn-on-skin electronics can already track muscle signals, heart rate, temperature and skin hydration, among other physical data, and can be further customised to collect different types of information.

It is expected to be especially useful in high-stakes situations where it’s not possible to access sophisticated equipment, including on a battleground. They electronics also offer other advantages, including simple fabrication techniques that don’t require dedicated equipment.

“It is applied like you would use a pen to write on a piece of paper,” said Associate Professor Cunjiang Yu. “We prepare several electronic materials and then use pens to dispense them. Coming out, it is liquid. But like ink on paper, it dries very quickly.”

Yu also reported that the drawn-on-skin electronics have demonstrated the ability to accelerate healing of wounds.

The drawn-on-skin electronics – essentially multifunctional sensors/circuits drawn on the skin with an ink pen – are actually comprised of three inks, serving as a conductor, semiconductor and dielectric.

“These components are drawn on-demand in a freeform manner to develop many devices, such as transistors, strain sensors, temperature sensors, heaters, skin hydration sensors, and electrophysiological sensors.”

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