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South Korea develops electronic tattoo that may alert patients to possible health problems

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South Koreans may soon give you the option to hold a tool inside their very own bodies in the shape of a bespoke tattoo that robotically alerts them to potential health problems, if a science team’s project bears fruit.

Researchers on the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) in the town of Daejeon southwest of Seoul have developed an electronic tattoo ink fabricated from liquid metal and carbon nanotubes that functions as a bioelectrode.

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Connected to an electrocardiogram (ECG) device or other biosensor, it may well send a readout of a patient’s heart rate and other vital signs such glucose and lactate to a monitor.

The researchers eventually aim to give you the option to dispense with biosensors.

Wettability test being preformed on South Korea’s recent electronic tattoo on the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) in Daejeon, South Korea, on July 26, 2022. 
(REUTERS/Minwoo Park)

“In the long run, what we hope to do is connect a wireless chip integrated with this ink, in order that we will communicate, or we will send signal backwards and forwards between our body to an external device,” said project leader Steve Park, a materials science and engineering professor.

Such monitors could in theory be positioned anywhere, including in patients’ homes.

The ink is non-invasive and made out of particles based on gallium, a soft, silvery metal also utilized in semiconductors or in thermometers. Platinum-decorated carbon nanotubes help conduct electricity while providing durability.

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“When it’s applied to the skin, even with rubbing the tattoo doesn’t come off, which shouldn’t be possible with just liquid metal,” Park said.

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