The structure of human skin offers clues to prevent the formation and propagation of membrane material cracks that undermine the longevity and function of the biomedical materials and devices in which they are integrated.

The V-shaped microchannels in outermost skin layers direct fractures to deeper membrane layers, an observation translated by Binghamton University researchers into the development of an elastomer membrane with similar properties.

Microchannels embedded in 3D-printed, silicone-based, polydimethylsiloxane membranes provide fracture control by guiding potentially damaging cracks around sensitive parts of medical devices and flexible electronics. Multiple embedded channels provide non-contiguous crack control, which is maintained in single and dual-layer membranes at angles up to 45°.

The fracture control features do not affect the mechanical stability of the material and can extend the service life of medical devices and wearable sensors.

A paper on the research is published in Scientific Reports.

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