When we think about the process of getting a tattoo, all that comes to mind is the sound of buzzing needles moving across the skin. Although it may appear to be the pinnacle of lavishness, a recently developed method of tattooing gold into live tissue is actually an important step toward enabling the interaction of human cells with technological gadgets. And it’s unlike anything that any of us have ever experienced or heard before. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University, led by engineer David Gracias, who was responsible for developing the method, believe that it has the potential for amazing applications in the medical field.
Find out how.
Scientists etched layouts of gold nanodots and nanowires onto live mouse embryo fibroblast cells by expanding on a production process known as nanoimprint lithography. The incompatibility of tissue that is alive with the processes that are used to manufacture electronics is one of the most significant challenges that must be overcome. Now, they are even closer than they have ever been before to obtaining some fascinating results.
If you imagine where this is all going in the future, we would like to have sensors to remotely monitor and control the state of individual cells and the environment surrounding those cells in real time, explained Gracias.
The nanoscale gold that Gracias and his colleagues created was initially printed onto a silicon wafer that had a polymer coating. After that, the polymer was dispersed in order that the layout might be transmitted to fine films of glass. After that, the thin films of glass were coated with a biological component known as cysteamine and covered with a hydrogel, which was later dissolved. The cysteamine and the gelatin worked together to assist the gold in forming a link with the cell, where it stayed and traveled along with the cell for the subsequent 16 hours.
This work represents a step forward in the development of more complex electronics such as circuits, antennas, and electrodes, which can be incorporated not only with living tissues. Apparently, hydrogels and other delicate substances, too, are not in line with more severe production procedures. Also, because nanoscale lithography is fairly straightforward and affordable, this research stands for a move forward in the expansion of this technology.
The scientific work is being carried out continuously.