Washington, March 31: Imagine a tattoo-like thin wearable device that can store information and also deliver medicine – combining patient treatment and monitoring at one time?
Researchers in the US have created an ‘electronic skin’ that can store and transmit data about a person’s movements, receive diagnostic information and release drugs into skin.
The technology could aid patients with movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease or epilepsy, they claimed.
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.
The researchers constructed the device by layering a package of stretchable nanomaterials – 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.
The device works if it is connected to a power supply and data transmitter, both of which 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.
The findings were published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology1.