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Attachable Skin Monitors that Wick the Sweat Away
- A silicone membrane for wearable devices is more comfortable and breathable thanks to better-sized pores made with the help of citric acid crystals. - A new preparation technique fabricates thin, silicone-based patches that rapidly wick water away from the skin. The technique could reduce the redness and itching caused by wearable biosensors that trap sweat beneath them. The technique was developed by bioengineer and professor Young-Ho Cho and his colleagues at KAIST and reported in the journal Scientific Reports last month. “Wearable bioelectronics are becoming more attractive for the day-to-day monitoring of biological compounds found in sweat, like hormones or glucose, as well as body temperature, heart rate, and energy expenditure,” Professor Cho explained. “But currently available materials can cause skin irritation, so scientists are looking for ways to improve them,” he added. Attachable biosensors often use a silicone-based compound called polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), as it has a relatively high water vapour transmission rate compared to other materials. Still, this rate is only two-thirds that of skin’s water evaporation rate, meaning sweat still gets trapped underneath it. Current fabrication approaches mix PDMS with beads or solutes, such as sugars or salts, and then remove them to leave pores in their place. Another technique uses gas to form pores in the material. Each technique has its disadvantages, from being expensive and complex to leaving pores of different sizes. A team of researchers led by Professor Cho from the KAIST Department of Bio and Brain Engineering was able to form small, uniform pores by crystallizing citric acid in PDMS and then removing the crystals using ethanol. The approach is significantly cheaper than using beads, and leads to 93.2% smaller and 425% more uniformly-sized pores compared to using sugar. Importantly, the membrane transmits water vapour 2.2 times faster than human skin. The team tested their membrane on human skin for seven days and found that it caused only minor redness and no itching, whereas a non-porous PDMS membrane did. Professor Cho said, “Our method could be used to fabricate porous PDMS membranes for skin-attachable devices used for daily monitoring of physiological signals.” “We next plan to modify our membrane so it can be more readily attached to and removed from skin,” he added. This work was supported by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) of Korea under the Alchemist Project. Image description: Smaller, more uniformly-sized pores are made in the PDMS membrane by mixing PDMS, toluene, citric acid, and ethanol. Toluene dilutes PDMS so it can easily mix with the other two constituents. Toluene and ethanol are then evaporated, which causes the citric acid to crystallize within the PDMS material. The mixture is placed in a mould where it solidifies into a thin film. The crystals are then removed using ethanol, leaving pores in their place. Image credit: Professor Young-Ho Cho, KAIST Image usage restrictions: News organizations may use or redistribute this image, with proper attribution, as part of news coverage of this paper only. Publication: Yoon, S, et al. (2021) Wearable porous PDMS layer of high moisture permeability for skin trouble reduction. Scientific Reports 11, Article No. 938. Available online at https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-78580-z Profile: Young-Ho Cho, Ph.D Professor email@example.com https://mems.kaist.ac.kr NanoSentuating Systems Laboratory Department of Bio and Brain Engineering https://kaist.ac.kr Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) Daejeon, Republic of Korea (END)
Flexible Nanogenerator Technology
KAIST research team successfully developed the foundation technology that will enable to fabrication of low cost, large area nanogenerator. Professor Lee Gun Jae’s team (Department of Materials Science and Engineering) published a dissertation on a nanogenerator using nanocomplexes as the cover dissertation of the June edition of Advanced Materials. The developed technology is receiving rave reviews for having overcome the complex and size limitations of the nanogenerator fabrication process. A nanogenerator is an electricity generator that uses materials in the nanoscale and uses piezoelectricity that creates electricity with the application of physical force. The generation technology using piezoelectricity was appointed as one of top 10 promising technologies by MIT in 2009 and was included in the 45 innovative technologies that will shake the world by Popular Science Magazine in 2010. The only nanogenerator thus far was the ZnO model suggested by Georgia Tech’s Professor Zhong Lin Wang in 2005. Professor Lee’s team used ceramic thin film material BaTiO3 which has 15~20 times greater piezoelectric capacity than ZnO and thus improved the overall performance of the device. The use of a nanocomplex allows large scale production and the simplification of the fabrication process itself. The team created a mixture of PDMS (polydimethylsiloxane) with BaTiO3 and either of CNT (Carbon Nanotube) or RGO (Reduced Graphene Oxide) which has high electrical conductivity and applied this mixture to create a large scale nanogenerator.
Korean Researchers Develop Skin-Like Tactile Sensor
THE KOREA TIMES2005.1.31(Mon) A South Korean scientific research center said Sunday that it has developed a tactile sensor capable of functioning like human skin. The left picture shows the letters of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) caught through a tactile sensor functioning like human skin and the right picture is its enlarged image. Scientists from KAIST developed the precision tactile sensor with 1-millimeter spatial resolution. The tactile sensor is made of polydimethylsiloxane, a synthetic rubber, and has a 1-millimeter spatial resolution capability, the Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (KAIST) said. ``Many tactile sensors have been developed so far, but ours has the highest spatial resolution capability, flexibility, softness and extensibility,’’ said Lee Hyung-kyu, who led the development project. Late last year, the University of Tokyo unveiled a tactile sensor with a spatial resolution capability of 2 millimeters. Lee said his team will announce the results of their research at an international conference on micro-electro-mechanical systems, to be held early next month in the U.S. city of Miami. The new sensor is widely expected to lay the foundation for coating humanoids such as South Korea"s HUBO or Japan"s ASIMO with artificial skin. HUBO is a humanoid robot recently developed by KAIST. It is capable of moving its fingers independently, dancing and shaking hands with people by using its 41 joints. Japan"s ASIMO, an acronym for Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility, was unveiled in 2000 as the world"s most advanced bi-pedal robot. Through several upgrades, it is now able to spin in the air, bend or twist its torso and maneuver around obstacles in its path.
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