The 'Band-Aid' is made of strong and stretchy material. It lights up if medicine is running low
MIT engineers have created a strong, stretchy bandage that not only delivers medicine but also indicates the time when it needs to be changed or to be supplied in different quantity.
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The MIT bandage contains tiny drug-delivering reservoir alongside temperature sensors and LED lights and stretches with the movement of body. When bandage is applied to a body part such as elbow or knee, it delivers medicine through skin and continuously measures the skin temperature and reacts accordingly such as lights up if medicine is running low.
Incorporating electronics such as conductive wires and semiconductor chips into a bandage is a unique combination because it involves altogether different functions and properties.
Researchers used a rubbery material hydrogel matrix to develop the ‘smart wound dressing. The material was exactly what they need to achieve the desired results.
“Electronics are usually hard and dry, but the human body is soft and wet. These two systems have drastically different properties,” said hydrogel matrix designer Xuanhe Zhao from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "Conventional synthetic hydrogels are barely stretchable and do not stick firmly to surfaces. To increase the agility and strength, researchers mixed water with a small amount of selected biopolymers and created a soft, stretchy material, almost like the soft human tissues.
The hydrogel matrix allowed electricity to pass through safely on the surface of skin. Then, tiny holes were drilled through the matrix to create pathways for drugs to flow through the hydrogel and into the body. In this way, bandage can work not only on the surface but inside the body as well.
“The unique capability here is, when a sensor senses something different, like an abnormal increase in temperature, the device can on demand release drug to that specific location and select a specific drug from one the reservoirs, which can diffuse in the hydrogel matrix for sustained release over time.” Graduate student Hyunwoo Yuk said.
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The material holds promise to be used in many ways and researchers are next trying to use in neural devices.