The researchers put their new device on a contact lens as a proof-of-concept in a paper published today in Nature Communications—an electronically-enabled lens, they suggest, could be useful in monitoring the intraocular pressure of people with glaucoma, for instance—but they envision the circuitry someday being implanted in all sorts of biological contexts.
…Creating the circuits—which are printed on a one-micrometer thick layer of a substance called parylene—is a multi-step process. To begin, the scientists deposit the parylene on vinyl polymer that provides support, then print the circuitry on top of the parylene. Afterward, the entire chip is placed in water, which dissolves the underlying polymer, leaving the ultra thin circuitry intact. The result is something that’s about one-sixtieth as thick as a human hair.
This process, they say, confers a number of unique advantages. The circuit is extremely flexible, bending and crinkling to fit around, for instance, a hair, plant leaf or finger while still functioning properly. Because it’s extremely lightweight, it could be feasibly used in a range of long-term medical applications.
After heart surgery, for instance, your doctor could someday prescribe you an implanted device similar to this one that monitors your the blood pressure in your aorta. Nearly-invisible environmental sensors could be deployed in an ecosystem to track levels of soil nutrients and pollutants, sending the data wirelessly to scientists’ computers….
Every Thursday is #3dthursday here at Adafruit! The DIY 3D printing community has passion and dedication for making solid objects from digital models. Recently, we have noticed electronics projects integrated with 3D printed enclosures, brackets, and sculptures, so each Thursday we celebrate and highlight these bold pioneers!
Have you considered building a 3D project around an Arduino or other microcontroller? How about printing a bracket to mount your Raspberry Pi to the back of your HD monitor? And don’t forget the countless LED projects that are possible when you are modeling your projects in 3D!
The Adafruit Learning System has dozens of great tools to get you well on your way to creating incredible works of engineering, interactive art, and design with your 3D printer! If you’ve made a cool project that combines 3D printing and electronics, be sure to let us know, and we’ll feature it here!