South Korea develops nanotech tattoo as health monitoring device

DAEJEON, Aug 2 (Reuters) – South Koreans may soon be able to carry a device inside their own bodies in the form of a custom-made tattoo that automatically warns them of potential health issues, if the project of a scientific team 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 functions as a bioelectrode.

Attached 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 ultimately aim to be able to do without biosensors.

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

Such monitors could theoretically be located anywhere, including patients’ homes.

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

“When applied to the skin, even by rubbing, the tattoo does not come off, which is not possible with just liquid metal,” 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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