If you've ever needed stitches for a particularly nasty cut, you know that making sure they don't get infected is one of the biggest drags of the experience — besides, of course, having someone sew your skin together. Thanks to a new smart suture technology being developed at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, however, you won't have to worry as much about your wound while waiting for it to heal.
Made from microscopic strands of etched silicon attached to silk or polymer thread, the electronic stitches react to heat by limiting the amount of electric current that can pass through them. This way, an attached sensor can tell if the wound is becoming warmer due to the presence of infection and let you know that some antibiotics are in order.
The sutures also contain gold filaments that can heat up when attached to a power source. Heating wounds has shown to promote healing in tests, and we're assuming the developers of the stitches have sussed out a way to determine if heat in the wound is being caused by this self-warming feature or an actual infection.
We recently saw a new printing technology that can put images on surfaces as thin as a human hair. Something tells us that the folks making that and the developers of these smart stitches should team up to make major wounds a little more bearable to look at.
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