We Could Soon Print Circuits Directly Onto Our Own Skin

Imagine the coolest tattoo ever, that could be used for things like robotics, medicine, and so much more. Well, while sensors printed onto the skin have become more commercialized in recent years, there was always a problem – the lack of circuits.

Too hot to handle

One of the biggest drawbacks to printing circuits onto your skin was that you generally needed to be able to do so at very high temperatures of around 572°F (300°C). Unsurprisingly, skin didn’t really take too kindly to a lot of heat being applied to it. While many scientists have been trying to work out ways we could print circuits and therefore sensors onto our skin, it seemed like an impossible dream.

Heatless circuits

A team from Penn State University believe they have solved the problem, however, with a new method that allows scientists to print circuits onto the skin without heat. To try and combat the temperature issue, they’ve found a way of creating a sintering aid layer that would enable circuits to be printed on the skin at lower temperatures. Using calcium carbonate and an alcohol paste usually found in face masks, the circuitry can then be sintered on top of the layer without burning the skin.

Unlimited possibilities

But, what’s the point of all of this? Surely, we don’t want to become cyborg humans, complete with circuits on the skin? Well, the main reason for these sensors is medical. There are many health conditions that researchers believe could be managed better with these highly sensitive sensors and circuitry. They could monitor things like blood oxygen levels, heart performance, temperature, and humidity. There are also sensors being made to monitor things like diabetes!

It’s definitely a huge leap forward in medical technology and science – and one that could help us manage health conditions better in the future. Plus, having a circuit on your skin would look pretty cool, right?