Researchers have developed a self-powered bandage that generates an electric field over an injury, dramatically reducing the healing time for skin wounds in rats. They wanted to develop a flexible, self-powered bandage that could convert skin movements into a therapeutic electric field.

A wound covered by an electric bandage on a rat's skin (top left) healed faster than a wound under a control bandage (right). (Credit: American Chemical Society)

To power their electric bandage, or e-bandage, the researchers made a wearable nanogenerator by overlapping sheets of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), copper foil, and polyethylene terephthalate (PET). The nanogenerator converted skin movements, which occur during normal activity or even breathing, into small electrical pulses. This current flowed to two working electrodes that were placed on either side of the skin wound to produce a weak electric field.

The team tested the device by placing it over wounds on rats’ backs. Wounds covered by e-bandages closed within three days, compared with 12 days for a control bandage with no electric field. The researchers attribute the faster wound healing to enhanced fibroblast migration, proliferation, and differentiation induced by the electric field.

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