Purdue University unveils biomedical skin-like bandage
A skin-like biomedical technology that uses a mesh of conducting nanowires and a thin layer of elastic polymer might bring new electronic bandages that monitor biosignals for medical applications and provide therapeutic stimulation through the skin. The research behind this project was conducted by scientists from Purdue University (West Lafayette (IN), USA).
The biomedical device mimics the human skin’s elastic properties and sensory capabilities. “It can intimately adhere to the skin and simultaneously provide medically useful biofeedback such as electrophysiological signals,” said Chi Hwan Lee, assistant professor of biomedical engineering and mechanical engineering at Purdue University. “Uniquely, this work combines high-quality nanomaterials into a skin-like device, thereby enhancing the mechanical properties.”
The device could be likened to an electronic bandage and might be used to treat medical conditions using thermotherapeutics, where heat is applied to promote vascular flow for enhanced healing, added Lee. Traditional approaches to developing such a technology have used thin films made of ductile metals such as gold, silver and copper.
"The problem is that these thin films are susceptible to fractures by over-stretching and cracking," Lee underlined. "Instead of thin films we use nanowire mesh film, which makes the device more resistive to stretching and cracking than otherwise possible. In addition, the nanowire mesh film has very high surface area compared to conventional thin films, with more than 1000 times greater surface roughness. So once you attach it to the skin the adhesion is much higher, reducing the potential of inadvertent delamination."