As nanoscientists, we often become so engrossed in the task of shrinking our devices that we neglect to pursue ideas that involve relatively large components. At our worst, our attitude can be summed up as, “If it’s visible to the naked eye, then it is too simple to bother with.”

So a recent paper that demonstrates, for the first time, “electronic tattoos” for biomedical sensing applications comes as a surprise and something of a wake-up call to the nanoscience community. The paper, published last week in the journal Science and written by a team led by John Rogers of the University of Illinois, is notable for its lack of nanotubes, quantum dots, scanning electron micrographs, or any of the other hallmarks of a modern scientific paper about electronic devices. Instead, the majority of the figures in the paper are photographs taken through the same optical microscopes that you’d find in a typical middle school classroom. Heck, a skilled surgeon could probably have pieced together the device by hand. And yet, despite its low degree of difficulty from a technological standpoint, their work has taken the blogosphere by storm and is one of the most exciting results I personally have seen all year.
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