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Body art: Electronic Tatoos - Research Paper Example

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Body Art: Electronic Tattoos Imagine it is late at night and you are walking down a lonely street. Your chest tightens, and you cannot breathe. You realize that you are having a heart attack and you start to panic. There is no need to worry, however, because a medical response unit appears from nowhere and begins the treatment that will save your life…
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Body art: Electronic Tatoos
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Download file to see previous pages The possibilities of wearable electronics for the skin are apparently limitless, and new, improved products are coming on the market all the time. This all may sound somewhat farfetched but it has already become a reality. Scientists have developed a new kind of circuit called the “epidermal electronic system” (EES) and as its name suggests, it integrates with the surface of the human body. It is like a patch of second skin, overlaid on a person’s natural skin surface with all the appearance of a small temporary tattoo. Once commentator notes that “Small electronic devices slapped onto the skin like temporary tattoos could presage an era when people have cell phones embedded in their throats and Internet browsers literally at their fingertips.” (Sanders, 2011, p. 1) This astonishing technology was developed by a team of international scientists looking to create less obtrusive medical monitors for premature babies and other special-needs patients. They report in the August 12 edition of the Science magazine that these devices are so thin that they attach to the human skin without the need for any kind of glue, in a manner that is mechanically invisible to the user. (Kim et al, 2011, p. 838) Features such as temperature and strain sensors, transistors, light-emitting diodes, photodetectors, radio frequency inductors, and capacitors can all be built into a flexible device that is almost weightless, and is thinner than a human hair. The researchers are now also building in solar cells and wireless coils to provide a power supply. The challenge for the researchers working on this technology was to make the silicon thin enough, and flexible enough, to mould itself to the human body. Since the body moves, and the skin naturally stretches and wrinkles to accommodate this movement, any silicon patch on the skin has to display these same characteristics of flexibility and strength, while remaining firmly attached to the human user. John Rogers, a materials scientist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, explains how they achieve this: “you have to go from thin membranes of silicon to thin, filamentary, serpentine noodles of silicon, essentially. And those wavy wires – you can grasp them by the ends, you can sort of stretch them, elongate them, without fracturing the silicon” (Khan, 2011, p. 1) The adhesion process is also innovative, using natural forces similar to those on a gecko’s foot through an electrostatic phenomenon known as the van der Waals Force (Futurity, 2011, p. 1). Many of the functions of machines like the electroencephalogram (ECG), electrocardiogram (ECG) and electromyogram (EMG), which analyze features of the brain, heart and muscles respectively could be significantly enhanced through the use of this microscopic technology. The application of these delicate tattoo-like patches to the field of medicine will surely bring many benefits. They reduce the need for bulky wires and electrodes, which is a great advantage when treating tiny premature babies (Science Daily, 2011, p.1). They can provide instantaneous information which is invaluable for the treatment of many chronic and acute conditions. Their use saves valuable staff time, and the tiny sliver of material is far more comfortable for users than the bundles of wires or batteries of tests that are traditionally used in ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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