Ink-Jet Printed Flexible Electrode Tattoo

This is Francesco Greco, a researcher at TU Graz in Austria, with a temporary tattoo electrode. Source: Lunghammer – TU Graz

In diagnostic methods like an electrocardiogram (ECG) or electromyography (EMG), typically gel electrodes are what doctors use to transmit electric impulses from a patient’s heart or muscle. The electrodes can be difficult to work with. Electrodes are stiff, uncomfortable and can restrict the patient’s movements. In addition, the gel that is used on the electrodes dries quickly so the doctors have to work quickly to get a measurement.

Researchers from Instituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) Pontedera, Università delgi Studi in Milan, Scuola Superiore Sant Anna in Pisa and the Institute of Solid State Physics at TU Graz have developed a new method that can raise transmission of electrical impulses with tattooed electrodes.

The new method uses polymers that are printed on a commercial, temporary tattoo paper that produces single or multiple electrode arrangements. External connections that are needed to transmit signals are already put into the tattoo at the printing process. The tattoo electrodes are placed on the skin much like the temporary tattoos.

The electrodes are incredibly thin, measuring at less than one micrometer. This means that the electrodes can be adapted perfectly to human skin, even though it is not a flat surface. The electrode tattoo can be applied where traditional electrodes cannot.

Read more: Flexible Electrode for Medical Applications Made on a Ink-Jet Printed Tattoo

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