Glowing LED Tattoos, The Next Big Thing in Body Modification?

by Matt Forcey


Although they’ve seen a surge in popularity over the past decade, tattoos are basically created the same way they have been for eons.  Ink forced under the skin by a sharp implement.  Now, thanks to an international team of researchers, led by John Rogers at the University of Illinois, subdural illumination could soon be coming to a tattoo parlor near you. 

Sure, the Chinese Dragon tat was unique when YOU got it, but now your friend’s mom has one too.  How bad ass would it be to reignite your individuality by giving your bicep beast a pair of smoldering crimson eyes, glowing with enough hellfire to pierce the darkness of even the gothiest of nightclubs?    How about you girl… starting to regret the tramp stamp you got on spring break that year they were sexy?  Class it up a bit with a flickering “Vacancy” sign.

Surpassing previous attempts to embed lights under the skin, Rogers’ team has created a new material that concentrates LEDs into a mesh-like array.  This array is then encapsulated in a thin layer of silicon rubber, allowing the LEDs to be completely immersed in biofluids.  The finished product is a film-like, waterproof substrate that, when implanted under your skin, can twist and stretch up to 75%.  Already tested under living animal skin, the team has founded a private company, called mc10, to commercialize the new technology.

Of course the researchers didn’t set out to develop a new trend in body modification.  Their hope is that this new technology can be used for biomedical applications, such as light-emitting sutures, controlling the delivery of light-activated drugs, or implantable patches for the monitoring of wound healing.

Whatever… bring on the nipple headlights!


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