For a wearable biomedical device to be comfortable and practical, it should provide a seamless ‘second skin’ for the patient. To do so the device must move with the body, emulating the elasticity of skin. This has sparked a lot of interest in thin, film-like materials, and has led to a new breed of biocompatible electronics with controllable flexibility. Such materials are highly elastic, and consist of a spiral network interweaved through a gel-like substance – as pictured. The spiral symmetry allows the material to be stretched evenly in all directions – mimicking the stretching properties of skin – although subtle changes to the structure can tweak the elasticity, adapting it for different patches of skin, and even different organs. These composite materials are a step forward in tissue engineering and could be used to create both wearable and fully implanted biomedical devices in the future.
Written by Helen Thomas
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.