Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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A Second Skin
27 March 2015

A Second Skin

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

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