A Sticky Sensor That Attaches To Internal Organs

Capable of measuring electrical activity when affixed to rats' hearts

photo of an adhesive sheet stuck on a person's hand, with a Japanese coin stuck on the sheet

Adhesive

A gel-based adhesive for sticking sensors on the bodySunwon Lee et al., Nature Communications 2014

Eww, what's that on this guy's hand? It's a sticky sheet designed to attach electronic sensors onto organs in the body. See how the sheet holds up a 100-yen coin?

A team of researchers based at several Japanese universities made prototype sticky sensors that they've now tested on the still-beating hearts of living rats. The sensors measured strain and electrical activity, both of which are created when a heart beats. In a test, the sensors maintained good contact with the rats' hearts for three hours.

It's not clear to what extent surgeons actually need to stick sensors on hearts or other organs while they're operating, but perhaps this research could lead to other types of on-the-body sensors that are able to stick, even in wet and slippery conditions. It certainly is a cool bit of work in making a flexible electronic device. The engineering team demonstrated the prototypes' durability and adhesiveness in a few fun ways, by sticking a strain sensor on someone's knuckle and by adhering an array of sensors on an inflated balloon, then deflating it. Even after such tests, all systems were a go.

two photos of a sensor taped onto someone's knuckle

Knuckle Test

Sunwon Lee et al., Nature Communications 2014
two photos showing a flexible sensor array taped onto an inflated, then deflated, balloon

Balloon Test

Sunwon Lee et al., Nature Communications 2014

The team published their work in the journal Nature Communications.