Electronics ‘like a second skin’ make wearables more practical and MRIs safer for kids

A UC Berkeley physicist is using printers with high-tech inks to make a new generation of medical devices, from wearables to MRI hardware for children.

BERKELEY, Calif. — She’s a physicist who trained in the storied lab where Watson and Crick worked out the structure of DNA. In her years in industry, she made sharper displays for e-readers, more efficient solar panels, and sensor tape that soldiers could wear on the battlefield to measure the strength of explosions.

Her manufacturing tool of choice: a simple printer.

Ana Claudia Arias is an expert in the field of low-cost printable electronics. Now at the University of California, Berkeley, she’s focused on using printers loaded with a variety of high-tech inks to make a new generation of medical devices, from wearables to barely noticeable MRI hardware for kids.

“Our dream is to have electronics in things like this,” she said, holding out a piece of plastic mesh so soft it felt like cloth.

Arias doesn’t wear a Fitbit. Why would she? To her, they’re bulky, unattractive and, most annoyingly, have to be recharged all the time.

Instead, in a

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from STAT

STAT3 min readPsychology
To Sleep, Perchance To Forget? Scientists Pinpoint In Mice The Neurons That Control Memory While Dreaming
If you wonder why we forget our dreams, new research in mice might answer that question and others related to memory.
STAT4 min read
Opinion: Cokie Roberts: A Beacon For Cancer Survivors Like Me
In full view of her ABC News audience and on the air at NPR, Cokie Roberts lived publicly with breast cancer for 17 years. That's a victory, even if she…
STAT4 min readSociety
Opinion: Constant, Rapid Testing Is Key To Creating The ‘Learning Health System’ Of The Future
The view that health care systems of the future will be "learning health systems" is inspiring. Routine experimentation to identify what works and what doesn't is the way to make…