50 years ago, a computer took up a whole room, nowadays you can literally wear it as a second skin.
That’s what Professor Wenlong Cheng and his team are currently developing at Monash university – soft, skin like electronics that will have a number of applications, particularly in medicine, but potentially also in the areas of athletics and aged care.
Eskin or ematerial, challenges traditional thinking about material design, because ‘soft biological systems’ and ‘hard electronics’ have very different, incompatible rules.
The way Prof. Cheng has solved this apparent incompatibility is by integrating ultra-thin gold nanowires into tissue paper to create an ultra-flexible sensor, which is sandwiched between thin layers of PDMS and attached to wiring,
This creates a material that is flexible, stretchable wearable and soft, which makes the potential for it very exciting.
These applications could prove very significant for the healthcare industry, in particular, from aiding medical professionals looking at patient’s cardiac functions, in addition to being critical in the diagnosis and treatment of Parkinson’s disease. It could also have a big role to play in aged care – especially as this area becomes increasingly important in policy and healthcare.
In addition to this, Prof. Cheng says that the eskin has a low carbon footprint and that further collaboration with health and textiles industries is critical in getting the eskin to the next step. If it were to succeed, he argues, it could potentially bring significant opportunities for Australia through skilled jobs and increased export revenue.