Tattoos are a fairly popular form of personal expression. However, European researchers have created what they call the world’s first light-emitting tattoo based on OLED technology. In addition to being quite interesting to look at, it can serve as an indicator of potential health problems.
Usually people use tattoos to keep the memory of an important event or to express their dedication to something, to emphasize their other preferences. However, there are precedents for the use of tattoos for medical purposes. For example, cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy are tattooed with small dots on their skin, which are used as landmarks to precisely target equipment.
It should be noted that the idea of decorating leather with light elements is also not new. Earlier, people called themselves biohackers LEDs under the skin, but the result had no practical application other than to attract attention. However, British and Italian scientists went even further. They recently published an article in Advanced Electronic Materials called “Ultra-thin adjustable stand-alone tattoo light emitting diodes“. It describes a technology based on the same principles as flexible OLEDs used in smartphones. Flexibility is especially important for such a device because it must bend with human skin. Without causing discomfort.
The design of light emitting tattoos contains an extremely thin layer of electroluminescent polymer that illuminates when a small stream is applied. It is worth noting that the thickness of such a layer is only 2.3 micrometers, which is about a third of the diameter of an erythrocyte. It is placed between a pair of electrodes and sits on top of an insulating layer that is attached to the temporary tattoo paper with a special printing process. Such a tattoo can be easily applied to the skin surface as temporary decades designed for children. As a result, they can be easily washed when needed.
When energized, the OLED tattoo glows green, but the researchers assure that they can, if necessary, be given any color. Scientists claim that such tattoos have great potential as a medical tool. In combination with other technologies, for example, they can be used as a warning light for athletes when it’s time to hydrate.
It is worth noting that researchers have so far only tested the new technology on static surfaces such as paper, plastic bottles, etc. Given how often human skin is sensitive to mechanical stress, an OLED tattoo applied to it may not provide acceptable durability. In addition, such tattoos work in laboratory conditions from an external power source, which is very inconvenient in the case of jewelry applied to the body because the user has to be constantly connected to the power source.
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