Researchers at the University of Tokyo, with the support of the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST), have developed a new gel suitable for attaching sensors to the human body, inside or out. The gel has strong adhesive properties, and readily conforms to irregular shapes. It also stretches, so that it can survive motions such as the bending of a finger joint.
The scientists created a matrix of circuits on a very thin plastic film, and then coated it with the gel. They developed a way to pattern the gel using light, so that the sensor parts of the circuit remained uncovered. The resulting stack can be applied to the skin, or even to the outside of an internal organ. The researchers have already conducted tests using the sensor material on the heart of a rat, which provided highly accurate readings. The same technique has been used to create strain sensors to measure the movement of a finger joint.
This technology has the potential to lead to new sensors that can be worn around the clock, generating biometric data that can be used for fitness, health, and medical applications. The team’s results are published in Nature Communications.