Tech Prints Sensors Right onto Human Skin

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Researchers have developed a way to print sensors directly on human skin without using heat.Wearable sensors are evolving from watches and electrodes to bendable devices that provide far more precise biometric measurements and comfort for users.“In this article, we report a simple yet universally applicable fabrication technique with the use of a novel sintering aid layer to enable direct printing for on-body sensors,” says Ling Zhang, a researcher in the Harbin Institute of Technology in China and in Huanyu “Larry” Cheng’s laboratory in the Penn State engineering science and mechanics department. Zhang is first author of the study, published in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.Lowering the Temperature for Wearable SensorsThe researchers previously developed flexible printed circuit boards for use in wearable sensors, but the bonding process for the metallic components in the sensor has hindered printing directly on skin. Called sintering, this process typically requires temperatures of around 572 degrees Fahrenheit (300 degrees Celsius) to bond the sensor’s silver nanoparticles together.“The skin surface cannot withstand such a high temperature, obviously,” Cheng says. “To get around this limitation, we proposed a sintering aid layer—something that would not hurt the skin and could help the material sinter together …

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