Japan team develops micro-thin electric circuit

Jul 24, 2013
A nurse checks a patient's blood pressure on July 10, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. A flexible electrical circuit one-fifth the thickness of food wrap and weighing less than a feather could give doctors the chance to implant sensors inside the body, its Japanese developers say.

A flexible electrical circuit one-fifth the thickness of food wrap and weighing less than a feather could give doctors the chance to implant sensors inside the body, its Japanese developers say.

The team at the University of Tokyo said the device on an ultra-thin film is unique since it works even after it has been crumpled into a ball or stretched.

Researchers unveiling the circuit said it could be used to monitor all sorts of physical data, such as body temperature and blood pressure as well as electronic pulses from muscles or the heart.

For people who can only move their tongue, the sheet might be placed on the roof of the mouth and serve as a to operate a communications device, team members said.

"This can be attached to all sorts of surfaces and does not limit the movement of the person wearing it," said professor Takao Someya of his research, which was being published in the journal Nature on Wednesday.

Healthcare sensors often use silicon and other relatively rigid materials that can cause their users some discomfort.

The new flexible should reduce or even eliminate the stress, he said.

The circuit is just 2 micrometres thick—food wrap used in kitchens is typically 10 micrometres—and weighs only 3 grams (0.1 ounce) per square metre, he said.

The product is so thin and light that, when dropped in the air, it slowly falls while gently rolling and rocking, much slower than a bird's feather.

Its creation became possible after the team succeeded in creating a high-quality, super-thin insulating layer, Someya said.

Even in a salty solution, like those found inside the , the device worked well for more than two weeks, raising the possibility that it could be placed inside human bodies for data collection in the future.

Someya said more research needed to be done before that could happen.

For example, while the film is nearly imperceptible, its effects on the skin with which it is in contact are not fully known and it is possible that rashes could develop.

And making a reliable power source that is small enough to run the device is also a challenge.

Explore further: Eye implant could lead to better glaucoma treatment

More information: Nature Doi: 10.1038/nature12314

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Engineers monitor heart with paper-thin flexible 'skin'

May 15, 2013

(Phys.org) —Engineers combine layers of flexible materials into pressure sensors to create a wearable heart monitor thinner than a dollar bill. The skin-like device could one day provide doctors with a ...

Air bubbles could be the secret to artificial skin

Jun 07, 2013

(Phys.org) —Using foam substrates, EPFL scientists were able to make a flexible electronic circuit board. This discovery could lead to the creation of deformable and stretchable circuits.

Scientists develop ultra-thin solar cells

Apr 04, 2012

Austrian and Japanese researchers on Wednesday unveiled solar cells thinner than a thread of spider silk that are flexible enough to be wrapped around a single human hair.

Organic flash memory developed

Dec 17, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Researchers at the University of Tokyo have developed a non-volatile memory that has the same basic structure as a flash memory but is made from cheap, flexible, organic materials.

Recommended for you

Technology on the catwalk

7 minutes ago

Summer days bring thoughts of beach picnics, outdoor barbecues and pool parties. Yet it only takes the buzz of one tiny mosquito to dampen the fun.

Dismantling ships and the trajectory of steel

43 minutes ago

Tell me how you dismantle a ship, and I'll tell how a region can prosper from its steel! This could be the motto of this master's cycle at ENAC during which the projects of two civil engineering students ...

Eye implant could lead to better glaucoma treatment

23 hours ago

For the 2.2 million Americans battling glaucoma, the main course of action for staving off blindness involves weekly visits to eye specialists, who monitor—and control—increasing pressure within the eye.

Electricity helping the blind navigate

Aug 25, 2014

Specialists at the Monterrey Institute of Technology (ITESM) developed a device able to guide blind or visually impaired people in established routes through electrical stimulation of the organs associated ...

User comments : 0