Micro-fine adhesive sensors developed by Japan scientists

Scientists
in Japan have developed a sticky sheet of tiny sensors that can be put directly
on moving joints, beating hearts or other living tissues. The invention opens
up the possibility of implanting almost unnoticeable sensors inside the body,
letting doctors keep a close eye on a dodgy heart, for example. “Just by
applying to the body like a compress, our novel sheet sensor detects biometric
information extremely accurately,” researchers at the University of Tokyo said
in a statement.

Tiny
flexible sensors on a high-tech adhesive sheet are applied to a human finger in
both stretching (top) and bending (bottom) positions, at University of Tokyo
professor Takao Someya’s laboratory. The device can be placed directly on
moving joints, beating hearts and other living tissue. (Credit: AFP-JIJI)

The
secret is an adhesive gel that prevents a fine grid of sensors from slipping,
even if the thing they are in contact with is moving, said the team led by
Professor Takao Someya at the Department of Electrical Engineering and
Information Systems. Conventional devices often use silicon and other
relatively rigid materials, which can be uncomfortable for wearers. Sensors are
printed at 4 millimeter (a sixth of an inch) intervals on very thin plastic.
This allows the manufacturer to get as many as 144 individual sensors on a
sheet just a little bigger than an after dinner mint.

Their
proximity to the organ or joint they are measuring means they are able to take
highly accurate readings. The sticky sheets could be used in healthcare or
sports science, the team said. “Although we are currently at the animal
experimentation stage, this compress-like sensor has been successfully attached
even to internal tissues, such as a rat’s heart,” the team said.

“In
the future, this technology will be applied to internally implanted electrical
systems and the scope of application for electrical devices will increase.” The
study, done with backing by the governmental Japan Science and Technology
Agency, was published in Nature Communications.

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