Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Wireless device being 3D printed onto a human hand

Circles of silver ‘ink’ extruded by a 3D printer create a circuit on a human hand. Credit: Z. Zhu et al./Adv. Mater.

Technology

Human hand electrified with 3D printer

Device layers silvery ink onto the skin to make a circuit.

A 3D printer can ‘write’ an electronic circuit directly onto human skin.

Seeking applications for 3D printing, Michael McAlpine and his colleagues at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis used a 3D scanner to map the topology of a hand. The team then fed the map into an off-the-shelf 3D printer, and equipped this with tracking cameras. These allowed the printer to compensate for the inevitable motion of a living participant.

The researchers developed a quick-drying ‘ink’ that included silver particles to conduct electricity. The 3D printer squirted this ink onto a hand to create a current-carrying coil. When a second, power-transmitting coil was passed across the hand, the resulting current in the skin coil powered a light-emitting diode attached to the hand.

The authors say that the technology could be used to layer chemical sensors and biomedical treatments onto the skin.

More Research Highlights...

Plastic and other debris floats underwater in blue water

Plastic detritus from snacks and meals floats in the Red Sea. Marine sampling shows that food waste accounts for nearly 90% of plastic pollution at some locales. Credit: Andrey Nekrasov/Barcroft Media/Getty

Ocean sciences

Humanity’s fast-food habit is filling the ocean with plastic

Food bags, drink bottles and similar items account for the biggest share of plastic waste near the shore.
Conceptual artwork of a pair of entangled quantum particles.

An artist’s impression of ‘entangled’ particles, which share properties even at a distance. Entangled photons can be used to help secure a multi-party video meeting. Credit: Mark Garlick/Science Photo Library

Quantum information

Quantum keys dial up tamper-proof conference calls

A new experiment efficiently distributes the highly secure keys to four parties instead of the typical two.
Farmers harvest pineapples in a field.

Workers harvest pineapples in Lingao County, China. Less than one-third of the money spent on food eaten at home reaches farmers. Credit: Yuan Chen/VCG/Getty

Economics

Poor harvest: farmers earn a pitiful fraction of the money spent on food

The bulk of consumer food spending around the world ends up in the coffers of distributors, processors and other parties beyond the farm gate.
A woman wearing a protective face mask splashes her hands in a jet of water

A pedestrian seeks relief from searing temperatures in Spain, where a high proportion of heat-related deaths have been linked to climate change. Credit: SALAS/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Climate change

More than one-third of heat deaths blamed on climate change

Warming resulting from human activities accounts for a high percentage of heat-related deaths, especially in southern Asia and South America.
Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing

Search

Quick links