DAEJEON: South Koreans may soon be able to carry a device inside their bodies as a bespoke tattoo that automatically alerts them to potential health problems when a science team’s project bears fruit.
Researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) in Daejeon city, southwest of Seoul, have developed an electronic tattoo ink made of liquid metal and carbon nanotubes that act as bioelectrodes.
Hooked up to an electrocardiogram (ECG) device or another biosensor, it can send a readout of a patient’s heart rate and other vital signs such as glucose and lactate to a monitor.
The researchers eventually aim to be able to dispense with biosensors.
“In the future, what we hope to do is connect a wireless chip integrated with this ink so that we can communicate, or we can send a signal back and forth between our body to an external device,” said project leader Steve Park, a materials science and engineering professor.
Such monitors could theoretically be located anywhere, including in patients’ homes.
The ink is non-aggressive and is composed of particles based on gallium, a soft, silvery metal also used in semiconductors or thermometers. Platinum-adorned carbon nanotubes help conduct electricity while providing durability.
“When it is applied to the skin, even rubbing the tattoo does not remove the tattoo, which is simply not possible with liquid metal,” Park said.