Wearable electronics will revolutionize the way doctors diagnose and treat patients, according to researchers at MIT, who are developing stretchable hydrogels that share many of the same properties of human tissue.
“Hydrogel is a polymer network infiltrated with water. Even though it is only 5 to 10 percent polymer, this network is extremely important,” said Xuanhe Zhao, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
The polymer network Zhao and his colleagues are developing make up a microscopic scaffold that endows bio-based hydrogels with special properties uncommon to synthetic hydrogels.
It is highly stretchable and can adhere easily to surfaces. Most importantly, says Zhao, it is specifically designed to be compatible with the human body – both inside and out. That compatibility could potentially give rise to a new class of biomedical devices.