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Reprogrammable Skin Patch For Enhanced Health Monitoring

In a recent article published in the journal Advanced Materials, researchers have developed a skin-attachable, reprogrammable, multifunctional adhesive device patch for high-sensitive biosensing systems. This innovative device aims to enhance personal health monitoring and disease management through the integration of advanced materials and laser processing techniques.

Reprogrammable Skin Patch Enhances Health Monitoring
Study: Reprogrammable Skin Patch Enhances Health Monitoring. Image Credit: HenadziPechan/Shutterstock.com

Background

The increasing demand for wearable electronics and personalized health monitoring devices has driven the development of advanced materials and fabrication techniques to meet the evolving needs of modern healthcare systems.

Skin-interfaced biosensing systems play a crucial role in monitoring electrophysiological signals and biochemical markers for personalized health assessment and disease management. However, the integration of multiple functionalities, such as adhesion, sensing, and signal processing, in a single device platform remains a significant challenge.

Traditional approaches to fabricating skin-interfaced electronics often involve complex material combinations and fabrication processes, leading to weak interfaces and potential failure under mechanical deformations or prolonged usage. Additionally, the use of external adhesives to ensure strong attachment to the skin can cause skin irritation, alignment issues, and motion artifacts, limiting the practicality and comfort of wearable devices.

The Current Study

The elastomeric bioadhesives were prepared by manually mixing polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) precursors, polyimide (PI) powder, and amine-based polyethylenimine ethoxylated (PEIE) additives in varying mass ratios. The mixture was thoroughly homogenized to ensure uniform dispersion of the components. Subsequently, the composite was spin-coated onto a silicon wafer and cured at 80 °C for 3 hours to achieve the desired mechanical properties and adhesion strength.

After the curing process, the composite-coated silicon wafer underwent laser processing to create porous LIG patterns. The laser parameters, including power, speed, and focal length, were optimized to achieve precise and controlled ablation of the composite material. This step was crucial in generating interconnected graphene networks within the adhesive matrix, enhancing electrical conductivity and surface area for sensor applications.

The laser-induced graphene patterns were further functionalized through selective post-modifications to tailor their properties for specific applications. Metallic modifications, such as silver or gold nanoparticle deposition, were employed to enhance conductivity for DC/AC electrical applications. Enzymatic or chemical functionalization was also explored to enable selective sensing of biomarkers, such as glucose or lactate, in biofluid analysis.

The fabricated elastomeric bioadhesives and laser-induced graphene patterns were characterized using a range of analytical techniques. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) was utilized to examine the morphology and microstructure of the porous LIG networks. Electrical conductivity measurements were performed to evaluate the performance of the functionalized LIG electrodes. Adhesion strength tests were also conducted to assess the bonding properties of the bioadhesive composite on various substrates.

The performance of the multifunctional adhesive device patch was validated through a series of experiments. Functional tests, including thermal management, electrical stimulation, and biosensing capabilities, were conducted to evaluate the device's versatility and reliability under different operating conditions. Real-time monitoring of physiological signals, such as electrocardiogram/electromyography (ECG/EMG) or sweat biomarkers, demonstrated the device's potential for personalized health monitoring applications.

Results and Discussion

The fabricated elastomeric bioadhesives exhibited excellent mechanical flexibility and adhesion properties, crucial for skin-interfaced applications. The incorporation of PI powder and PEIE additives in the PDMS matrix resulted in a synergistic effect, enhancing the overall performance of the composite. Adhesion strength tests revealed strong bonding between the bioadhesive and various substrates, ensuring reliable attachment to the skin without causing irritation or discomfort.

The laser processing of the bioadhesive composite also successfully generated porous LIG patterns with interconnected graphene networks. The controlled ablation of the composite material led to the formation of high-surface-area structures ideal for electrochemical sensing and signal transduction applications. SEM analysis confirmed the presence of well-defined porous structures within the LIG patterns, indicating the effectiveness of the laser-induced transformation process.

The selective post-modifications of the LIG patterns with metallic nanoparticles or enzymes significantly enhanced their electrical conductivity and sensing capabilities. The deposition of silver or gold nanoparticles on the LIG electrodes improved charge transport properties, enabling efficient DC/AC electrical applications. Enzymatic functionalization enabled selective detection of specific biomarkers, offering enhanced sensitivity and specificity for biofluid analysis and health monitoring.

The multifunctional adhesive device patch demonstrated versatile performance in various applications, including thermal management, electrical stimulation, and biosensing functionalities. Real-time monitoring of physiological signals, such as ECG/EMG and sweat biomarkers, showcased the device's ability to provide accurate and reliable data for healthcare applications. The seamless integration of different functional units within the device platform highlighted its potential for personalized health monitoring and disease management.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the research presented a novel approach to developing a programmable, recyclable device platform for skin-interfaced biosensing systems. By integrating laser processing and functionalized composites in the adhesive patch, the researchers have opened up new possibilities for personalized health monitoring and disease management, paving the way for future advancements in wearable technology and bioelectronics for improved healthcare solutions.

Despite its future benefits, further research and development in this field are still needed to help bring this device to market and to open up the possibility for the commercialization of innovative healthcare solutions based on skin-interfaced biosensing systems.

Journal Reference

J. Zhu, Y. Xiao, et al. (2024). Direct Laser Processing and Functionalizing PI/PDMS Composites for an On-Demand, Programmable, Recyclable Device Platform. Advanced Materials, 2400236. https://doi.org/10.1002/adma.202400236, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/adma.202400236

Dr. Noopur Jain

Written by

Dr. Noopur Jain

Dr. Noopur Jain is an accomplished Scientific Writer based in the city of New Delhi, India. With a Ph.D. in Materials Science, she brings a depth of knowledge and experience in electron microscopy, catalysis, and soft materials. Her scientific publishing record is a testament to her dedication and expertise in the field. Additionally, she has hands-on experience in the field of chemical formulations, microscopy technique development and statistical analysis.    

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