Researchers have developed a ‘stretchy’ wearable electronic sensor, with the hope that one day surgeons will be able to use their fingers for everything, thus replacing traditional surgeon tools. Materials engineer John Rogers and his colleagues from the University of Illinois, Northwestern University, and China’s Dalian University of Technology, have transformed hard semiconductors into flexible electronics, creating smart materials that can wrap around human fingers.
They made silicon into ultrathin “nanomembranes,” which they cut into wavy shapes and combined with a rubbery membrane to enable it to stretch and wrap around curved surfaces without being damaged. This smart material could be used for surgical gloves that give the wearer an enhanced sense of touch, allowing them to feel the body’s electric activity. They could also enable surgeons to cut tissue with just a touch of their fingertips. The researchers recently published their paper in Nanotechnology, and have begun creating wearable electronics through their startup company MC10.