The medical bandage is made of electrically conductive fibers coated with hydrogel. The gel contains medication such as antibiotics, growth factor and painkillers meaning that one bandage could contain several medications.
An integrated microcontroller sends voltage through different fibers at different times after which those fibers heat up, also heating the gel that covers them. This causes the gel to release medication into the wound.
The microcontroller could be triggered wirelessly, by a smartphone or a tablet. It’s also possible to incorporate thread-based sensors into the bandage. These sensors would measure glucose, pH and other indicators of skin health. Accordingly, the bandage could autonomously trigger itself to deliver medication.
The technology could be used on diabetic or other chronic wounds, or for soldiers on the battlefield where many pathogens exit.
"This is the first bandage that is capable of dose-dependent drug release," says Ali Tamayol, U Nebraska's Iranian assistant professor and director of the research team. "You can release multiple drugs with different release profiles. That's a big advantage in comparison with other systems. What we did here was come up with a strategy for building a bandage from the bottom up."