A new bioelectronic patch that can be directly placed on to the heart could soon be used to deliver a precise recording of electrophysiological activity, temperature, heartbeat and other indicators. The study of the new device developed by the researchers from the University of Houston has been published in the journal Nature Electronics.
Unlike existing cardiac implants, which are mainly made out of rigid electronic materials the new epicardial device is developed based on fully rubbery electronic materials that are compatible with heart tissue.
The device can assist in identifying underlying problems associated with heart arrhythmia or a heart attack. In addition to the ability to simultaneously collect information from multiple locations on the heart – a characteristic known as spatiotemporal mapping – the device can harvest energy from the heart beating, allowing it to perform without an external power source. This allows it to not just track data for diagnostics and monitoring but to also offer therapeutic benefits such as electrical pacing and thermal ablation, the researchers reported.
The epicardial bioelectronics patch is built with a material having mechanical properties that mimic cardiac tissue, allowing for a closer interface and reducing the risk of implant damage to the heart muscle.
“Unlike bioelectronics primarily based on rigid materials with mechanical structures that are stretchable on the macroscopic level, constructing bioelectronics out of materials with moduli matching those of the biological tissues suggests a promising route towards next-generational bioelectronics and biosensors that do not have a hard-soft interface for the heart and other organs,” the researchers wrote.
“Our rubbery epicardial patch is capable of multiplexed ECG mapping, strain and temperature sensing, electrical pacing, thermal ablation and energy harvesting functions,” wrote the authors.