South Korea develops nanotech tattoo as a health monitoring device

DAEJEON, Aug. 2 (Reuters) – South Koreans may soon be able to wear a device in their own bodies in the form of a custom tattoo that will automatically alert them to potential health problems, if a scientific team’s project bears fruit.

Researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) in the city of Daejeon southwest of Seoul have developed an electronic tattoo ink made of liquid metal and carbon nanotubes that acts as a bioelectrode.

Connected to an electrocardiogram (ECG) device or other biosensor, it can send a reading of a patient’s heart rate and other vital signs such as glucose and lactate to a monitor.

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The researchers aim to eventually dispense with biosensors.

“In the future, we hope to connect a wireless chip integrated with this ink so that we can communicate, or we can send a signal back and forth between our bodies to an external device,” said project leader Steve Park, a professor of materials science and technique.

In theory, such monitors could be placed anywhere, including in patients’ homes.

The ink is non-invasive and made of particles based on gallium, a soft, silvery metal also used in semiconductors or thermometers. Platinum-decorated carbon nanotubes help conduct electricity while providing durability.

“When applied to the skin, even with friction, the tattoo doesn’t come off, which isn’t possible with liquid metal alone,” Park said.

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Reporting by Minwoo Park, Daewoung Kim; Edited by John Stonestreet

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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