A small ultrasound sticker can monitor the stiffness of organs deep inside the body. The sticker, about the size of a postage stamp, can be worn on the skin and is designed to pick up on signs of disease, such as liver and kidney failure and the progression of solid tumors.

The sensor can send sound waves through the skin and into the body, where the waves reflect off internal organs and back out to the sticker. The pattern of the reflected waves can be read as a signature of organ rigidity, which the sticker can measure and track.

The researchers precisely fabricated 128 miniature transducers that they incorporated onto a 25-mm-sq chip. They lined the chip’s underside with an adhesive made from hydrogel — a sticky and stretchy material that is a mixture of water and polymer, which allows sound waves to travel into and out of the device almost without loss.

The engineers are working to adapt the design for use in humans. They envision that the sticker could be used in intensive care units (ICUs), where the low-profile sensors could continuously monitor patients who are recovering from organ transplants. (Image credit: MIT)

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