It seems tattoos aren't always just about aesthetic appeal, some can even benefit the heart. Researchers have reportedly developed a new graphene-based tattoo that will help the heart keep its beat.

As per a study published in Advanced Materials, the graphene tattoo, more like conventional pacemakers, emits electrical impulses that generate a better heartbeat. Scientists conducted a mouse model study and found it brought an abnormally sluggish beat back on track.

What is graphene technology?

As part of the study, the researchers intend to integrate a thin film of sensors built up of carbon atoms into the human body to monitor and treat some vital health issues, according to Graphene Uses.

The electronic device is still at the proof-of-concept stage, but in the coming five years will be ready to be used in human hearts.

The lead researcher of the study, Igor Efimov, a cardiovascular engineer at Northwestern University in Chicago, and his team for years have explored the ways of conjoin rigid electronic wirings with the soft, throbbing tissues of the body. The team was particularly looking at developing an implantable device as the current pacemakers, which involve adding electrodes on long wires, tend to suffer wear and tear due to the flexing of wires.

One possible solution, Effimov says, is to develop an ultra-thin material that sticks to the heart fine and keeps up with its more than 100,000 rhythms per day without going haywire.

The positive aspect of graphene tattoos is that they are "atomically thin" as compared to the metal components often used in electronics, Dmitry Kireev, a biomedical engineer at the University of Texas at Austin who developed the graphene tattoos, told Science News.

Graphene is one layer of carbon atoms, which are arranged in the pattern of a honeycomb.

The newest tattoo is made by wedging a thin layer of graphene between sheets of stretchy silicone and ultrathin polymer. The graphene wires are connected to a main power source through the gold tape (a thin layer of gold that is used to make electrical connections to graphene-based electronic devices), thereby allowing the electricity to zap through the device.

Efimov said they will try and make the device independent in the future. For this, they will stop the use of wiring and equip it with an antenna instead. The antenna will draw electrical signals from an external device placed on a person's chest. And Efimov hopes someday the graphene devices will be as small as a rice grain, ready to be injected into the heart muscle to perform the pacemaker's duties and cut back on the use of clunky components.

Graphene tattoo
Graphene tattoo Pixabay