Paper-folding art “Kirigami” inspires better bandages

Scraped up knees and elbows are tricky places
to securely apply a bandage. More often, the adhesive will peel away from
the skin with just a few bends of the affected joint. Now MIT engineers have come up with a stickier
solution, in the form of a thin, lightweight, rubber-like film. The adhesive film can stick to highly deformable
regions of the body, such as the knee and elbow, and maintain its hold even after 100
bending cycles. The key to the film’s clinginess is a pattern
of slits that the researchers have cut into the film, similar to the cuts made in a paper-folding
art form known as kirigami. The researchers attached the “kirigami film”
to a volunteer’s knee and found that each time she bent her knee, the film’s slits
opened at the center, in the region of the knee with the most pronounced bending, while
the slits at the edges remained closed, allowing the film to remain bonded to the skin. The kirigami cuts give the film not only stretch,
but also better grip: The cuts that open release tension that would otherwise cause the entire
film to peel away from the skin. To demonstrate potential applications, the
group fabricated a kirigami-patterned adhesive bandage, as well as a heat pad consisting
of a kirigami film threaded with heating wires. With the application of a 3-volt power supply,
the pad maintains a steady temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The group has also engineered a wearable electronic
film outfitted with light-emitting diodes. All three films can function and stick to
the skin, even after 100 knee bends.

Dereck Turner

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