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Skin-like device tracks skin hydration, temperature

September 30, 2014
by Richard R. Rogoski
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Researchers at Northwestern University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed a skin-like medical device that can monitor a person's cardiovascular and skin health.

Measuring only about five centimeters square and placed directly on the skin, this wearable device uses 3,600 liquid crystals on a soft, thin and flexible substrate that measure changes in heat on the skin's surface. These temperature changes can indicate changes in blood flow rate and skin hydration levels.

An algorithm then translates the way the temperature is distributed on the skin and creates a health report.

"These results provide the first examples of ‘epidermal’ photonic sensors," said John A. Rogers, a professor of materials science and engineering at the University of Illinois and one of the senior researchers, in a press release. "This technology significantly expands the range of functionality in skin-mounted devices beyond that possible with electronics alone."