Researchers at the University of Texas have designed an electronic tattoo made from Graphene, the world’s first 2D material.

Like a temporary tattoo, it is applied directly onto the skin with water. But that’s where the similarities end. Rather than a decorative motif, the developers are aiming to harness graphene’s unique properties and apply them in the field of biomedicine.

The human body can be seen as an electrical machine, constantly producing electrical signals and small voltages. As Graphene is an ultra-conductive material, this paves the way for a host of biometric uses and could herald the next generation of wearable medical sensors, measuring the electrical activity of the heart, brain, and muscles.

Graphene is also almost 300 times thinner than gold and 200 times stronger than steel, making the tattoo the thinnest, yet most durable, wearable device that has ever been made – a giant leap from today’s wearable sensors that need to be mounted on bands and strapped to the wrist or chest.

Aside from biomedical wearables, Graphene-based research can have applications in the Internet of Things, including smart houses and cities, human computer interaction, smart wheelchairs, speech assistance technology, the monitoring of distracted driving, and robot control. In a recent demonstration, Graphene tattoos applied to a person’s eyelids enabled the user to control the movement of a drone, purely through eye motion.

The researchers estimate that by 2022 Graphene will be cheaper to produce than gold, which today is the most commonly-used metal in medical devices. When Graphene goes into mass production, revolutionary devices such as the electronic tattoo will become affordable and, in the long-term, disposable.

The research was published in the American Chemical Society http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acsnano.7b02182″>here