Tech UPTechnologyThey manage to print circuits directly on the skin

They manage to print circuits directly on the skin

Manufacturing wearable circuits (flexible sensors or devices that fit and adhere to the skin) typically requires a lot of heat. Now, a team of scientists from Penn State University (USA) has succeeded in creating new wearable sensors that can be printed directly on a person’s skin, without burning the recipient in the process.

Researchers have found a way to manufacture them at room temperature, as they describe in their study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces , so they hope to develop new medical sensors that are much better suited to the individual patient.

“In this article, we report on a simple but universally applicable manufacturing technique using a new sintering aid layer to enable direct printing of body sensors,” said Ling Zhang, researcher at the Harbin Institute of Technology in China and co-author of the work.

Sensors printed directly on the skin, ever closer to reality.

What applications could they have?

High-sensitivity sensors could have a wide range of applications, from robotics to medicine.

Solving the problem of printing circuits directly on the skin and the heat that this entails is a big step since traditional methods of joining the components within a sensor require temperatures of around 300 ° C, which makes the process incompatible with cutaneous applications (would burn the skin, of course).

The surface of the skin cannot withstand such a high temperature, obviously ,” Cheng said. “To get around this limitation, we proposed a sintering aid layer, something that would not harm the skin and could help the material to sinter at a lower temperature.”

By adding a nanoparticle to the mixture, the silver particles are sintered at a lower temperature of approximately 100 ° C.


Isn’t it still very hot?

“This can be used to print sensors on clothing and paper, which is useful, but it is still higher than we can handle at skin temperature,” said Cheng, who noted that around 40 ° C could still burn the skin tissue. “We changed the formula of the auxiliary layer, changed the impression material and found that we could sinter at room temperature.”

Thus, gradually reducing the heat to room temperature by mixing compounds such as polyvinyl alcohol paste , the main ingredient in facial skin care masks, they achieved this goal. By applying the layer before sintering, the surface becomes smoother and the materials can be bonded without extreme heat. The end result is medical sensors, designed specifically for a person’s body, that can be easily removed with warm water. Removal or removal does not harm the device and neither does the skin.

While flexible sensors already exist and have applications in future physiological monitoring, applying that technology to the skin remained a problem for scientists. If this process becomes feasible on a large scale, it can pave the way for technology to help patients with various conditions. In fact, scientists plan to use this technology to monitor COVID-19 symptoms in patients.


Referencia: Ling Zhang, Hongjun Ji, Houbing Huang, Ning Yi, Xiaoming Shi, Senpei Xie, Yaoyin Li, Ziheng Ye, Pengdong Feng, Tiesong Lin, Xiangli Liu, Xuesong Leng, Mingyu Li, Jiaheng Zhang, Xing Ma, Peng He, Weiwei Zhao, Huanyu Cheng. Wearable Circuits Sintered at Room Temperature Directly on the Skin Surface for Health Monitoring. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 2020; 12 (40): 45504 DOI: 10.1021/acsami.0c11479

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