Graphene E-tattoos are a potential revolution in blood pressure monitoring

Graphene E-tattoos are a potential revolution in blood pressure monitoring

Graphene E-tattoos are a potential revolution in blood pressure monitoring

Graphene E-tattoos are a potential revolution in blood pressure monitoring

A visualization of what the e-tattoo will look like on screen. Image Credit: University of Texas at Austin

Controlling blood pressure is very important, especially for people with cardiovascular disease and those who are a bit older. However, the devices that do that, known as blood pressure monitors, are often bulky, require inflatable cuffs, and cannot provide continuous results. Research may have found an alternative, and it’s truly groundbreaking.

As reported in Nature Nanotechnology, a team from Texas has devised an electronic tattoo (e-tattoo) by sticking graphene to the skin. Graphene is an electrical conductor and can be used to pass a small, safe electrical current that measures the body’s bioimpedance, a measurement related to blood pressure.

“Blood pressure is the most important vital sign you can measure, but the methods of doing it passively outside the clinic, without a cuff, are very limited,” said Deji Akinwande, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UT. Austin and one of the project’s co-leaders, in a statement.

“The sensor for the tattoo is weightless and unobtrusive. You put it there, you can’t even see it and it doesn’t move,” said Roozbeh Jafari, a Texas professor of biomedical engineering, computer science and electrical engineering. A&M and the other co-leader of the project. “You need the sensor to stay in the same place because if you happen to move it, the readings will be different.”

Measuring bioimpedance is an intriguing approach, but it does not translate easily into arterial blood pressure. The team had to train a machine learning algorithm to work out the precise connection and deliver measurements with low uncertainty.

The monitoring device was placed above the sticky e-tattoo and was able to collect data for more than five hours, 10 times longer than in previous studies. Being unfettered means that blood pressure can be monitored in various scenarios without causing any problems, such as when someone is sleeping or exercising.

“All of this data could help create a digital twin to model the human body, predict and show how it might respond and respond to treatments over time,” Akinwande said.

The technology is still not ready, but it is a real and exciting possibility. Graphene is a material that consists of a layer of carbon one atom thick. Its incredible properties have been praised for years, but many promising technologies based on it are still under development, with challenges in making them work in the real world.