Researchers from the University of Tokyo have developed a breathable, non-invasive wearable gold nanonesh that monitors a patient’s health. A recent study published in Nature Nanotechnology found that the nanonesh is more comfortable and had better gas permeability than other wearable mesh.
Most wearable electronics trap air and sweat, resulting in irritation and inflammation when used for prolonged periods. A test group of 20 participants wore the mesh on their finger for a week and reported no discomfort. The material was made from electrospun biocompatible polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) nanofibers woven into a mesh, which was then coated with a layer of 70 to 100-nm thick layer of gold. After attaching the mesh to the participant’s skin, the researchers sprayed it with PVA in order to create a layer to keep the gold conductors fastened.
The nanomesh quickly adapts to the skin, and can maintain its functionality even when stretched to 40 percent of its normal length, i.e., across a bent knuckle. The researchers were able to record electric signals for touch, temperature, and pressure. The nanomesh can also relay electromyogram skin recordings through the wearer’s muscle activity. They found that the signal quality was on par to other stretchable sensors, although not superior.
According to the study’s co-lead author, Akihito Miyamoto, the nanomesh’s functionality is twofold: it can record vital signs on a long-term scale without any irritation and collect precise data on an athlete’s physiological activity without interfering with their mobility.