Diagnostic tests, hi-tech tattoos available soon
An Italian team of researchers has developed a new technology for monitoring patients or athletes over long periods of time: a series of electrodes that can be tattooed on the skin and obtained using an inkjet printer, which could potentially be used to perform various types of tests, including electrocardiograms.
The electrodes were developed by a research team of the Italian Institute of Technology-IIT in Pontedera, led by Francesco Greco in collaboration with Virgilio Mattoli, together with a research team from the University of Milan, led by Paolo Cavallari, and a team from Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies in Pisa, led by Christian Cipriani.
In their study, published in Advanced Science, the researchers presented their innovative highly flexible electrodes that can adapt to different areas of the body, including the face. The new electrodes are able to transmit the electrical signal for 3 consecutive days and can be used to perform electrocardiograms and other diagnostic tests, including electroencephalograms. In addition, after use, they can be washed away with soap and water, just like temporary tattoos.
“That of the so-called ‘epidermal electronics’, that is, electronic devices to be worn in direct contact with the skin, is a fast-growing field of research”, said Francesco Greco from IIT in Pontedera. “Thanks to the materials and the printing process used, our tattoo electrodes are an interesting innovation since they are low-cost and easy to apply and use”, Greco concluded.
The next goal of the Italian researchers is to develop wireless tattoo electrodes with integrated transistors in order to have signal reception and amplification in one device. Meanwhile, several European biomedical companies have shown interest in these innovative ‘hi-tech tattoos’, which can continuously monitor the health of patients and athletes.