Keeping track of your insides is difficult without large-scale imaging devices or relatively invasive sensors. These sticky, flexible sensors, however, could soon be applied to organs and left there — measuring what's happening whilst also conforming to your body's internal structure.
Developed by a team of Japanese researchers, these patches are made of stretchy, sticky flexible material that is capable of measuring electrical activity and strain while also sticking to the kinds of wet and gooeey things your find inside your body. In fact, they're made from a thin and extremely deformable grid of sensors made of polyethylene terephthalate film — just 1.4 microns thick — all held together with polyvinyl alcohol gel.
The materials used to form the gel are already used in medical applications, so there's no concerns about them causing trouble inside the body. In the prototype devices made to date, 144 sensors are distributed 4mm apart over a surface five inches square. That's a useful size, and it's conceivable that it could be layered on to a heart, say, to measure palpitations, or perhaps even inside a compress or plaster to ensure the correct pressures were being applied for healing.
While these devices won't be in medical use just yet — the researchers are only now carrying out experiments on living creatures — they certainly show much promise. Perhaps soon, medical sensors will be just as sticky as the insides of patients. [Nature via Popular Science via Engadget]