The sensor that sweats with you

Engineers at MIT have developed a sweat-proof electronic "skin." The design could lead to adaptable, wearable monitors for monitoring skin cancer and other diseases.

Engineers have developed a sweat-proof “electronic skin”

MIT engineers and researchers in South Korea have developed a sweat-proof "electronic skin" - an adaptable, sensor-equipped adhesive patch that monitors a person's health without peeling off, even when the wearer sweats.

The patch is patterned with artificial sweat ducts, similar to pores in human skin, which the researchers etched through the material's ultra-thin layers. The pores perforate the patch in a kirigami-like pattern, similar to that of Japanese paper-cutting art. The design allows sweat to escape through the patch, preventing skin irritation and damage to the embedded sensors.

The pattern also helps the patch conform to human skin as it stretches and flexes. This flexibility, coupled with the material's ability to resist sweat, makes it possible to monitor a person's health over long periods of time, which was not possible with previous "e-skin" designs. The results are a step toward durable smart skins that can track daily vital signs or the progression of skin cancer and other diseases.

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Photos: Felice Frankel

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