This stick-on silicon electrode network is wearable technology to the extreme, designed as a non-invasive diagnostic sensor.
FitBit too bulky? Why not glue a sensor array to your skin?
The quantified self goes nanoscale with a stick-on silicon electrode network that could not only change the way we measure health metrics, but could enable a new form of user interface. And the researchers behind it aim to have the device available in the next few weeks through a spinoff company, MC10.
The development takes wearable technology to the extreme, designed as a non-invasive diagnostic sensor that could be used to measure hydration, activity, and even infant temperature. It bonds to the skin, somewhat like a temporary tattoo, flexing and bending in sync with your skin the way you wish a Band-Aid would. How? Researchers at the University of Illinois, Dalian University of Technology in China, and the University of California at San Diego made it really, really small.
With a thickness of 0.8 micrometers at the widest — around one-thousandth the diameter of a human hair — the thin mesh of silicon actually nestles in to the grooves and creases in your skin, even the ones too small to see. Being small helps, but it’s also important that the silicon is laid out in a serpentine pattern and bonded to a soft rubber substrate, allowing the stiff material to flex, a little bit like an accordion.
“Although electronics, over the years, has developed into an extremely sophisticated form of technology, all existing commercial devices in electronics involve silicon wafers as the supporting substrate,” says John Rogers, who led the study published this week in Advanced Materials.