Nav: Home

Electronic skin stretched to new limits

June 15, 2018

An electrically conductive hydrogel that takes stretchability, self-healing and strain sensitivity to new limits has been developed at KAUST. "Our material outperforms all previously reported hydrogels and introduces new functionalities," says Husam Alshareef, professor of materials science and engineering.

Smart materials that flex, sense and stretch like skin have many applications in which they interact with the human body. Possibilities range from biodegradable patches that help wounds heal to wearable electronics and touch-sensitive robotic devices.

The material is a composite of the water-containing hydrogel and a metal-carbide compound known as MXene. As well as being able to stretch by more than 3400 percent, the material can quickly return to its original form and will adhere to many surfaces, including skin. When cut into pieces, it can quickly mend itself upon reattachment.

"The material's differing sensitivity to stretching and compression is a breakthrough discovery that adds a new dimension to the sensing capability of hydrogels," says first author, Yizhou Zhang, a postdoc in Alshareef's lab.

This new dimension may be crucial in applications that sense changes in the skin and convert them into electronic signals. A thin slab of the material attached to a user's forehead, for example, can distinguish between different facial expressions, such as a smile or a frown. This ability could allow patients with extreme paralysis to control electronic equipment and communicate.

Strips of the material attached to the throat have impressive abilities to convert speech into electronic signals. This might allow people with speech difficulties to be clearly heard.

"There is real potential for our material in various biosensing and biomedical applications," says co-author Kanghyuck Lee.

More straightforward and extremely useful medical possibilities include flexible wound coverings that can release drugs to promote healing. These could be applied internally, on diseased organs, in addition to adhering externally to skin. The team also envisions developing a smart material that could monitor the volume and shape of an organ and vary drug release according to signals produced.

An ideal potential would be to combine both medical sensing and therapy. Other exciting possibilities lie in robotics, where the material could serve in touch-sensitive finger-like extensions for machinery, for example.

There are also anticounterfeiting possibilities, with slabs of the material and integrated electronics proving highly sensitive at detecting signatures as they are written.

The KAUST team have a long list of possible applications that can now be further explored and developed. "There is great potential for commercialization," Alshareef concludes.
-end-


King Abdullah University of Science & Technology (KAUST)

Related Hydrogel Articles:

Active droplets
Using a mixture of oil droplets and hydrogel, medical active agents can be not only precisely dosed, but also continuously administered over periods of up to several days.
First-of-its-kind hydrogel platform enables on-demand production of medicines, chemicals
A team of chemical engineers has developed a new way to produce medicines and chemicals on demand and preserve them using portable ''biofactories'' embedded in water-based gels called hydrogels.
New hydrogels wither while stem cells flourish for tissue repair
Recently, a type of biodegradable hydrogel, dubbed microporous annealed particle (MAP) hydrogel, has gained much attention for its potential to deliver stem cells for body tissue repair.
SUTD develops revolutionary reversible 4D printing with research collaborators
Researchers from SUTD worked with NTU to revolutionise 4D printing by making a 3D fabricated material change its shape and back again repeatedly without electrical components
Bio-inspired hydrogel can rapidly switch to rigid plastic
A new material that stiffens 1,800-fold when exposed to heat could protect motorcyclists and racecar drivers during accidents.
Researchers develop thermo-responsive protein hydrogel
Bio-engineering researchers have created a biocompatible, protein-based hydrogel that could serve as a drug delivery system durable enough to survive in the body for more than two weeks while providing sustained medication release.
FDA phase 1 trial shows hydrogel to repair heart is safe to inject in humans -- a first
Ventrix, a University of California San Diego spin-off company, has successfully conducted a first-in-human, FDA-approved Phase 1 clinical trial of an injectable hydrogel that aims to repair damage and restore cardiac function in heart failure patients who previously suffered a heart attack.
High-tech gel aids delivery of drugs
High tech gel aids in the delivery of drugs.
CRISPR-responsive hydrogel system offers programmable approach to smart biomaterials
Using CRISPR as the 'switcher,' hydrogels infused with DNA can be programmed to translate biological information into changes in the constituent gel material's properties, researchers say, triggering the gels to release compounds or nanoparticles, for example.
New hydrogels show promise in treating bone defects
Bioengineers and dentists from the UCLA School of Dentistry have developed a new hydrogel that is more porous and effective in promoting tissue repair and regeneration.
More Hydrogel News and Hydrogel Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Teaching For Better Humans 2.0
More than test scores or good grades–what do kids need for the future? This hour, TED speakers explore how to help children grow into better humans, both during and after this time of crisis. Guests include educators Richard Culatta and Liz Kleinrock, psychologist Thomas Curran, and writer Jacqueline Woodson.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#556 The Power of Friendship
It's 2020 and times are tough. Maybe some of us are learning about social distancing the hard way. Maybe we just are all a little anxious. No matter what, we could probably use a friend. But what is a friend, exactly? And why do we need them so much? This week host Bethany Brookshire speaks with Lydia Denworth, author of the new book "Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life's Fundamental Bond". This episode is hosted by Bethany Brookshire, science writer from Science News.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Space
One of the most consistent questions we get at the show is from parents who want to know which episodes are kid-friendly and which aren't. So today, we're releasing a separate feed, Radiolab for Kids. To kick it off, we're rerunning an all-time favorite episode: Space. In the 60's, space exploration was an American obsession. This hour, we chart the path from romance to increasing cynicism. We begin with Ann Druyan, widow of Carl Sagan, with a story about the Voyager expedition, true love, and a golden record that travels through space. And astrophysicist Neil de Grasse Tyson explains the Coepernican Principle, and just how insignificant we are. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.