Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Flexible sensor array wraps beating hearts to map cardiac activity in real time (USA)
"Getting a cardiac map of the electrical activity coursing through a live, beating heart has proven impossible until now. For the first time, researchers have monitored the pulsing hearts of living pigs in real time, by wrapping a flexible array of silicon-based sensors around the heart. This could lead to minimally invasive treatments of arrhythmic hearts with erratic beats. The sensor array can map large areas of the heart with more than 2,000 silicon nanomembrane transistors. Such a technique could replace current heart-monitoring tactics that require many rigid, flat sensors and electrodes, which can only create a patchwork, point-by-point map of the heart. Researchers at the University of Illinois and Northwestern University managed to build the flexible circuits with single-crystal silicon based on stretchy material such as plastic or rubber. The ultrathin silicon layer allowed for folding and bending of the typically rigid semiconductor material."