Northwestern, U of Texas develop tattoo-style pacemaker

Researchers at Evanston, Ill.-based Northwestern University and University of Texas at Austin have developed the thinnest known cardiac implant: a graphene "tattoo" implant that functions as a pacemaker.

Grapheme is strong, lightweight and has conductive properties, according to an April 17 Northwestern news release. Similar in appearance to a child's temporary tattoo, the implant is thinner than a strand of hair and flexible enough to meld to the heart. Once implanted, the device conforms to the heart's contours, where it senses and treats irregular heartbeats.

In rat models, the graphene tattoo sensed irregular heart rhythms and delivered electrical stimulation without constraining or altering the heart's natural motions. The device is also optically transparent, "allowing researchers to use an external source of optical light to record and stimulate the heart through the device," the release said.

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