Forget Wearable and 3D Printed, This Is 3D Fabricated Injectable Electronics

We probably should have seen this coming: in the past we have often read about 3D printed electronics, 2D printed conductive inks on 3D printed surfaces, 3D printed embedded chips, all leading to ubiquitous concepts such as wearable electronics, the Internet of Things and smart/connected objects. However, more and more often lately, science moves faster than science fiction. We had never yet imagined something that a group of scientists from the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the School of Medicine of Tsinghua University in Beijing, found quite obvious and already demonstrated experimentally to be feasible: injectable 3D fabricated electrodes work better than wearable ones.

The way the process works is in some ways more similar to a 3Doodler than an actual 3D printer. The team of scientists, lead by the study’s corresponding author, Jin Liu, found an “alternative way of making three-dimensional (3D) medical electronics inside the biological body through sequential injections of biocompatible packaging material and liquid metal ink.” What that means is that they injected a sort of gel into the body that works as a shell, creating an isolated pocket under the skin. Then they inserted conductive liquid metal (GalnSn, a gallium alloy) into the gel and found that they could create a 3D electrode that worked both as a highly efficient ECG (Electrocardiograph) and a stimulator electrode. … (Read more)