Skin-Like Bandage Could be the Next Biomedical Band-Aid

Shelby Rogers

A new biomedical 'bandage' uses conducting nanowires to offer therapeutic stimulation. The device has the skin's stretchy properties and sensory abilities.

The nanowires are shrouded in a thin layer of elastic polymer, and has already been called an electronic bandage. A team of researchers from across the United States collaborated on the device.

bandage[Image Courtesy of Purdue University/Min Ku Kim]

"It can intimately adhere to the skin and simultaneously provide medically useful biofeedback such as electrophysiological signals," said Chi Hwan Lee, an 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."

Lee admits the team's creation isn't the sole electronic bandage being developed. However, several unique qualities like its elasticity and mesh film give it an advantage over others. Lee said:

"In addition, the nanowire mesh film has very high surface area compared to conventional thin films, with more than 1,000 times greater surface roughness. So once you attach it to the skin the adhesion is much higher, reducing the potential of inadvertent delamination."

bandage2[Image Courtesy of Purdue University/Min Ku Kim]

By recording these electrophysiological signs, doctors can get an accurate read of a wearer's heart and muscle activity. Better yet, the device doesn't impede the movement or lifestyle of its user. It's noninvasive and doesn't leave scarring caused by other internal cardiology trackers.

The nanowires measure 50 nanometers in diameter and 150 microns long. They get embedded into a thin elastic polymer layer only 1.5 microns thick. Lee said the process of creating the bandages itself came from adapting conventional techniques.

"The nanowires mesh film was initially formed on a conventional silicon wafer with existing micro- and nano-fabrication technologies. Our unique technique, called a crack-driven transfer printing technique, allows us to controllably peel off the device layer from the silicon wafer, and then apply onto the skin," Lee said.

The team hopes to use the research to develop a transdermal drug delivery bandage. It would use the nano-fabrication to transport medicines to the skin electronically. In theory, it could even be programmed to distribute the medicines at certain times or to sense when the medicine was needed based on the wearer's condition.

Researchers with Oklahoma State University assisted in the theoretical simulations for the device's mechanics. You can read the entire paper here.

SEE ALSO: Bioengineered Skin With Hair and Glands Now a Thing

Via Purdue News

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