'Stretchable Skin': Researchers Make Breakthrough

Dennis Faas's picture

A team of researchers in Cambridge, Massachusetts, have created the world's first batch of stretchable electronics. The researchers say they're hoping to use the new stretch polymer skin patches to help doctors and nurses monitor a patient's vital signs.

MC10, the startup firm behind the stretchable electronics, is the same company now in the process of commercializing electronic sutures, which are said to be capable of healing deep wounds much faster than present technology.

Stretchable Polymer: A Worldwide Pursuit

To be considered "stretchable," technology must contain electronic circuits that are elastically malleable while retaining their original intended functionality.

For several years, this notion of electronic "stretchability" has been a goal that has eluded many research teams around the world. MC10 is just one of the many firms to experiment with this innovative technology.

But so far, it is the only one to claim any level of success.

Currently about 40 per cent of stretchable electronics research is being conducted in the United States, with the UK, Germany, Sweden, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Korea, and Japan also attempting to make headway in the field. (Source: findmarketresearch.org)

Until now, the closest any research team had come to suitably manipulating polymer was making the molecules bend, rather than stretch.

Thanks to major advances in polymer substrate, microchips, LEDs, wireless technology, and even solar cells, however, stretchable electronic skin appears to be nearing a practical reality.

Reebok Partnership for New Product Release

In partnership with Reebok, MC10 has announced plans to release its first concept product later this fall. Details about the product are still secret.

However, many observers believe the new product will allow critical medical information (such as heart rate, respiration, hydration levels, and temperature) to be relayed automatically directly from the patient to a mobile device.

MC10 is also using recent developments in stretchability to work on developing stretchable catheters that, upon being placed inside a patient, could provide high-resolution images of damaged cardiac tissue. (Source: yahoo.com)

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