Scientists at MIT have invented a health-monitoring device that not only mimics the stretchability and sensitivity of human skin but is also sweat-proof, a property that solves a major problem that has prevented previous versions from functioning properly.
While different types of electronic skins (or e-skins) already exist, all of these skins have one problem in common: they were prone to malfunction and could peel away as a result of being exposed to sweat. That was precisely the challenge the MIT researchers sought to solve.
“With this conformable, breathable skin patch, there won’t be any sweat accumulation, wrong information, or detachment from the skin,” said Jeehwan Kim, a mechanical engineer at MIT. “We can provide wearable sensors that can do constant long-term monitoring.”
As reported by Interesting Engineering, the novel device boasts artificial sweat ducts that resemble pores in human skin and that have been etched through the material’s ultrathin layers. This design ensures that sweat can escape through the electronic skin, avoiding deteriorating the device.
For inspiration, the inventors turned to the physiology of actual human skin, investigating how our sweat pores are aligned and how they behave. Eventually, they came up with a similar pattern for their electronic skin.
According to the researchers, the new e-skin could eventually be used for making long-lasting wearable sensors to track daily vitals or the progression of skin cancer and other conditions.
Image source: MIT