A new smart bandage monitors temperature and delivers medicine, all in a ‘smart wound dressing’ developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers.
It was only in the beginning of last month that an MIT team revealed a new creation with key applications in the medical domain: a stretchable hydrogel which could connect to surface much as a cartilage connects to the bone. Building on this hydrogel, the MIT team has now developed the smart wound dressing.
The new smart bandage is based on the stretchable hydrogel keeping in line with the body’s movements naturally. Within the stretchable hydrogel the MIT team inserted electronics that have the ability to deliver medicine and monitor the body’s temperature.
Several other variants of the hydrogel have been developed by other institutions as well. The difference stands in the materials used for the hydrogel’s development. However, the latest version, that of the the MIT team presents the strongest adherence to surfaces. According to the research team, this stretchable hydrogel is even stronger than the naturally produced adhesives which keep muscles attached for instance.
The new smart bandage monitors temperature and delivers medicine. This is certainly a plus point for the MIT team. Allowing the insertion of microelectronics in the stretchable hydrogel may eventually allow medical researchers to safely use it inside the body in addition to the using it on the skin for different applications.
Xuanhe Zhao with MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering explained how the new smart wound dressing could be used inside the body as well. While the human body is made of soft tissue and is a rather wet environment, electronics don’t fit too well due to the difference in properties.
As such, making these electronic devices compatible means that they should be stretchable, malleable and soft. Thus, the idea of the stretchable hydrogel electronics. The MIT team inserted a titanium wire in the stretchable hydrogel to test how it could conduct electricity. The titanium wire proved successful in providing continuous conductivity as the material stretched over and over again.
Then, LED lights were encapsulated in the hydrogel. The experiment proved just as successful while the lights were stretched as they were applied to elbows or knees. With the two steps successfully completed, the research team set on to encapsulate micro electronical components in the new hydrogel.
These were sensor for temperature and micro medicine reservoirs which work on demand or can be activated manually. The process and the new smart bandage are described in a recently published article featuring in the Advanced Materials journal.
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