Researchers from the University of Cambridge have developed a method for creating adaptive and environmentally friendly sensors, which can be directly and imperceptibly printed on various biological surfaces, whether it be the skin of a finger or flower petal. Inspired by a web of web, capable of adapting and sticking to different surfaces, scientists integrated bioelectronics into their “web”, adding various sensory capabilities to them.

Threads, at least 50 times thinner than the human hair, are so light that they can be printed directly on the fluffy head of the dandelion, without destroying its structure. When printing on human skin, sensors adapt to it, exposing the pores of sweat, and remain invisible to the carrier. Tests on a person’s finger showed that such sensors can be used for continuous health monitoring.

This method, minimizing waste and emissions, can be used in various areas: from health care and virtual reality to electronic textile products and environmental monitoring. Results of the study published in the journal Nature Electronics.

The skin with electronic sensors can radically change the interaction with the outside world. For example, sensors printed directly on the skin can be used to continuously monitor health, improve sensations, or increase realism in games and virtual reality.

Modern wearable devices, such as smart watches, can be uncomfortable and interfere with the natural sensations of the skin. In contrast, the new sensors are not felt on the skin and do not interfere with its functions.

Professor Jan Sheri Juan from the Cambridge Department of Engineering, who led the study, noted: “If you need to measure anything on a biological surface, such as the skin or a petal, the interface between the device and the surface is crucial. We also need bioelectronics that are completely invisible to the user so that it does not interfere with their interaction with the world, and that it is stable and subtle.”

Existing methods for creating wearable sensors have their drawbacks. Flexible electronics, for example, are usually printed on plastic films that do not allow passage of gas and moisture, which can be uncomfortable for the skin. Recently developed flexible electronics that allow gas transmission still interfere with normal sensations and require energy-consuming production processes. Three-dimensional printing is less wasteful, but results in the creation of thicker devices that can interfere with natural movements.

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