The hybrid wearable ECG patch consists of removable and reusable electronics and biodegradable single-use skin patch. The skin patch is made of nanocellulose, which degrades in soil and repulps in water through a controlled process for easy recycling. Both the conductors and ECG electrodes, which are visible in the skin patch, were realized using carbon ink. (Credit: VTT)

A new sustainable electrocardiogram patch is fully recyclable. The device, made of biomaterials, is modular, so electronic components can be easily removed from the disposable patch and used again.

The patch itself is made of nanocellulose and printed with carbon conductors and sensing electrodes. The biodegradable patch is made of a material cellulose e-skin, which replaces traditional plastic in wearable skin applications. Both the conductors and ECG electrodes, which are visible in the skin patch, were realized using carbon ink.

The researchers say this is the first nanocellulose-based ECG patch with no plastic additives. The wider implications go beyond ECG as cellulose e-skin can be used in a wide array of wearable devices in the future. The film is strong, flexible, transparent, and breathable, and it has good printability.

VTT is currently looking to team up with partners who are interested in industrial scale manufacturing of sustainable wearable electronics.

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