MatSciCon2023: You might observe your own heartbeat using this stick-on ultrasonography patch.

 Imagine a smartwatch that displays not just your heart rate but also a live video of your beating heart. By developing a wearable ultrasound patch that offers a flexible way to look deep inside the body, similar to a Band-Aid with sonar, researchers may have made the first step in that direction.

Ultrasound, which uses sound waves to map tissues and fluids, can assist medical professionals in diagnosing cancer, checking for organ damage, and even tracking infections (SN: 1/3/18). However, the majority of ultrasound equipment aren't wearable, and the ones that are either have poor detail detection or have a limited operating time.

The new patch can function continuously for up to 48 hours, even when the user is engaged in physical activity like exercise. Researchers describe their findings in the Science journal on July 29. Additionally, the little equipment sees just as well as a larger hospital machine.

Mechanical engineering student at MIT Xuanhe Zhao adds, "This is just the beginning." His group intends to make the patch wireless and interface-capable so that it can display the ultrasound signals as 3-D visuals on a user's phone.

The medical options are numerous. According to Aparna Singh, a biomedical engineer at Columbia University, placing a patch over a person's heart could allow doctors to detect heart attacks and blood clots months before a crisis occurs. The patch, which is only about the size of a quarter when applied to a COVID-19 patient, may make it simple to identify developing lung issues.

According to Singh, "this also has a big potential to be available for underdeveloped nations," where a lack of facilities might make it challenging to monitor patients. The patch is made for around $100. Making the device more affordable will be one of the researchers' upcoming efforts.


C. Wang and others For long-term, continuous imaging of a variety of organs, use bioadhesive ultrasound. doi: 10.1126/science.abo2542. Science, Vol. 377, July 29, 2022, p. 517.


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