Engineers at Duke University have developed a direct electronic printing technique, which is suitable for certain surfaces such as paper or skin. The latter opens the door to what may be a future trend: embedded electric tattoos.
According to Aaron Franklin, Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Duke:
“When people hear the term ‘printed electronics’ the expectation is that, a person will load a substrate and designs for an electronic circuit into a printer and, a reasonable time later, remove a fully functional electronic circuit.”
He further added:
“And while over the years there have been a plethora of papers promising this type of printed electronics. The reality is that the process involves taking the sample several times to bake it, wash it or coat it with centrifuge materials. In contrast, ours is the first where the reality matches the public perception.”
Electronic tattoos? What is this about?
The idea of electronic tattoos was first developed in the late 2000s at the University of Illinois. Its creator was John A. Rogers, who is now a professor of Materials Engineering at Northwetern University, who instead of real tattoos which, as we already know, are permanently injected into the skin. Its development was based on thin, flexible rubber patches that also contain flexible electrical components.
However, this new development is an ink containing silver nanowires. These can be printed on any substrate at low temperatures with an aerosol printer.
This produces a thin film that maintains its conductivity without any additional processing, after printing the ink dries in two minutes at most and retains its high electrical performance.
In the following video, a student imprints two electronically active tracks on his little finger. At the end of this, it connects the wires to an LED light, and then employs a voltage from the bottom of the two printed wires, which causes the LED to stay on at all times.
This creation is still in its development phase and, certainly, there are still some things to be fine-tuned. However, it gives us the light to think that in the future tattoos, which are currently a trend, could become obsolete with the arrival of these new technologies.
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