Glowing tattoos to detect disease and cure it

THE ESSENTIAL

  • How this smart tattoo works is simple: if there are any health issues like sunburn or the wearer’s dehydration, it will light up!

Scientists at University College London and the Italian Institute of Technology have just developed a smart tattoo that emits light to signal health issues in its users, according to the newspaper The Independant. This luminescent patch is made up of small Oled-type diodes, i.e. the same light technology as that of smartphone screens or televisions. Patients only need to apply it to the skin for it to work.

Detect diseases …

How this smart tattoo works is simple: if there are any health issues like sunburn or the wearer’s dehydration, it will light up! More precisely, the two electrodes of the tattoo detect the anomaly and the electroluminescent polymer signals it.

According to Franco Cacialli, physicist and co-author of the study, interviewed by The Independant, these tattoos could “to be combined with forms of electronic tattoos for a very wide range of possible uses”. But already, just with this one, researchers are considering several jobs. In a sporting setting, worn by an athlete, it could light up when the latter needs to drink. Or on objects, for example, it could signal that food has expired.

… and cure them

“In healthcare, it could emit light if there is a change in the patient’s condition – or, if the tattoo was turned the other way around in the skin, it could be combined with therapy sensitive to the light to target cancer cells “, emphasizes Franco Cacialli. In addition to preventing certain pathologies, this tattoo could, in the future, open up new therapeutic avenues. But not for now, because this new technology still needs to be fine-tuned.

“The realization of the concept is the first step, he continues. The future challenges will be to encapsulate as much as possible the OLEDs to prevent them from degrading quickly in contact with air “. The goal of the researchers is to make this intelligent tattoo accessible to as many people as possible. Ultimately, they believe that low-cost, large-scale manufacturing should be possible. “The advantage of this technology is that it is inexpensive, easy to apply and use, and washes easily with soap and water”, concludes Franco Cacialli.


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