Sensors are printed directly on the human skin without heat

Sensors are printed directly on the human skin without heat
Sensors are printed directly on the human skin without heat

Beijing, October 12 (IANS): An international team of researchers has advanced the development of wearable electronics by printing sensors directly onto human skin without the use of heat.

“In this article, we report on a simple but universally applicable manufacturing technique using a novel sintering aid layer to enable sensors to be printed directly on the body,” said study author Ling Zhang from the Harbin Institute of Technology in China.

The research team previously developed flexible printed circuit boards for wearable sensors. However, the pressure directly on the skin has been hindered by the bonding process for the metal components in the sensor.

This process, known as sintering, typically requires temperatures of around 300 degrees Celsius to bond the sensor’s silver nanoparticles together.

“The surface of the skin obviously cannot withstand such a high temperature,” said Cheng.

“To get around this limitation, we suggested a sintering aid layer – something that doesn’t injure the skin and helps the material sinter together at a lower temperature,” added Cheng.

By adding a nanoparticle to the mixture, the silver particles sinter at a lower temperature of about 100 ° C.

“That can be used to print sensors on clothing and paper, which is useful, but it’s still higher than we can stand at skin temperature,” said Cheng, noting that around 40 ° C (104 ° F) could still burn skin tissue.

“We changed the formula of the auxiliary layer, changed the substrate and found that we could sinter at room temperature,” added Cheng.

The sintering aid layer at room temperature consists of polyvinyl alcohol paste – the main component of peelable face masks – and calcium carbonate – which comprises eggshells.

The layer reduces the roughness of the printing surface and allows for an ultra-thin layer of metal patterns that can bend and fold while maintaining electromechanical capabilities.

When printing the sensor, the researchers used an air blower, e.g. B. a cool hair dryer to remove the water that is used as a solvent in the ink.

“The result is profound. We don’t have to rely on heat when sintering, ”said Cheng.

According to Cheng, the sensors can precisely and continuously record temperature, humidity, blood oxygen levels and cardiac output signals.

The researchers also connected the sensors on the body into a network with wireless transmission functions to monitor the combination of signals as they progressed.

“The process is also environmentally friendly. The sensor remains robust in lukewarm water for a few days, but a hot shower can easily remove it, ”the authors wrote.

This study was recently published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

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