A team of researchers from the University of Tokyo was able to develop a micro-thin flexible electrical circuit that could improve the movement of artificial limbs among other things. The circuit is one-fifth the thickness of food wrap weighs less than a feather and is embedded in an ultra-thin film which will be able to work even if it is crumpled or stretched.
Professor Takao Someya, the head of the team, said that this means the device can be attached to any surface and will allow more flexibility for the person wearing it. The new circuits will be able to reduce or eliminate the stress on the healthcare sensors that usually use silicon and other rigid materials. Someya says their research shows that these super-thin sensors can actually help make the lives better of those who are living with artificial limbs. When the circuits are used in the limbs and wrapped around the arms or legs, they will pick nerve signals from the wearer’s brain to the muscles when they’re trying to move and it will then send the signals to the limbs.
This flexibility also means that more sensors can be added to pick up biosignals in more places which will lead to smoother movements for the artificial limbs. In theory, since the device can also work in salty solutions for more than two weeks, it could someday be placed inside a human body to collect data. But Someya says there needs to be further research and experimentation before that will be feasible. They would need to test if skin contact with the circuit would result in rashes and if they could make a reliable power source small enough to power the device. But for now, the research has been published in Nature magazine and can already be tried out for healthcare sensors.
[ via Herald Sun ]