Researchers from Purdue University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Oklahoma State University have developed an electronic patch that is extremely pliable and can be applied to the skin at just about any location and remain there without causing discomfort. Unlike thin film materials, the researchers instead relied on a wire mesh to provide electrical conduction while keeping the device flexible and stretchable. They demonstrated that their approach produces a less fragile material that can withstand a great deal of stress in different ways and directions.
The material also sticks better to the skin due to its greater surface area, helping it to naturally maintain exceptional adhesion compared to existing technologies. Because it provides direct conductivity with the skin, the researchers were able to measure electric signals from the heart (ECG) and muscles (EMG).
From the study abstract in journal Advanced Materials:
Mechanically reinforced skin-electronics are presented by exploiting networked nanocomposite elastomers where high quality metal nanowires serve as conducting paths. Theoretical and experimental studies show that the established skin-electronics exhibit superior mechanical enhancements against crack and delamination phenomena. Device applications include a class of biomedical devices that offers the ability of thermotherapeutic stimulation and electrophysiological monitoring, all via the skin.
Here’s a Purdue video showing off the new patch:
Study in Advanced Materials: Mechanically Reinforced Skin-Electronics with Networked Nanocomposite Elastomer…