Invisible second skin is applied like gel to smooth out wrinkles

The XPL material is invisible once applied and has very similar elastic properties to healthy, young human skin(Credit: Melanie Gonick/MIT)The XPL material is invisible once applied and has very similar elastic properties to healthy, young human skin(Credit: Melanie Gonick/MIT)

Unless you possess the magical healing powers of a Hollywood celebrity, your skin is going to lose elasticity and gain wrinkles as you grow older. And the effects are not just cosmetic, with the skin’s ability to guard against extreme temperatures, radiation and toxins diminishing over time. A new invisible polymer coating from MIT may offer a way to apply to brakes, however, by stretching over existing skin to smooth out wrinkles, act as a protective barrier and even slowly deliver drugs to treat eczema and other conditions.

Described as a second skin, the polymer is applied in two stages. A chemical structure called siloxane, which is made up of alternating atoms of silicon and oxygen, is first spread out over the skin in a clear cream. A platinum catalyst is then applied, which transforms the siloxane into a cross-linked polymer layer (XPL).

The resulting material is invisible and has very similar elastic properties to healthy, young human skin. In testing, the researchers applied the XPL to bags under a subject’s eyes. They found that the material compressed and tightened the skin and remained in place for about 24 hours.

In another experiment, the researchers tested the hydrating properties of their second skin. They found that two hours after application, the XPL had retained much more water than skin treated with a commercial moisturizer. Skin treated with petroleum jelly had similar water-retention properties to the XPL for the first two hours, but after 24 hours, the XPL-treated skin had held much more water.

In testing, the researchers applied the XPL to the bags under a subject's eyes(Credit: Olivo Labs)

In testing, the researchers applied the XPL to the bags under a subject’s eyes(Credit: Olivo Labs)

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No study participant experienced irritation from the material, which was developed in collaboration with Massachusetts General Hospital, biomaterial firm Olivo Laboratories and haircare company Living Proof. Olivo Laboratories is now working to equip the material with the ability to release drugs, which could be used to treat skin conditions such as eczema. The researchers say it could also be modified to offer long-lasting ultraviolet protection.

“It’s an invisible layer that can provide a barrier, provide cosmetic improvement, and potentially deliver a drug locally to the area that’s being treated,” says Daniel Anderson, an associate professor in MIT’s Department of Chemical Engineering. “Those three things together could really make it ideal for use in humans.”

The research was published in the journal Nature Materials, and you can hear from the scientists in the video below.

Interesting article by Nick Lavars over at Gizmag

About the Author

Bill West
The founder and director of several fine art related promotional marketing companies along with their companion websites. Bill West is all about Art, Sculpture and all things Spatial. The aforementioned website’s – ARTdefs.com - SculptSite.com, his blog and podcast - SpatialSite.com – all provide a place for artists, both those just getting started to those who are seasoned an achievable path to recognition. Through Comprehensive Search & Discovery - with relevant results all Linked directly to you the Artist. You, the artist control all your links, nor more haphazard pie in the sky guesswork! Thus enabling you the Artist to display and achieve the all important feedback about your work. Not only that, but it assists in setting up that critical dialogue with potential clients. Here artists, sculptors, photographers, and object artists have an opportunity to participate, and exhibit their work in a visual place that is highly Searchable, and easily accessible to the public. No programming and it's Visual! BE SEEN! We do not sell, but assist you in the sales process. Bill feels that we are an important component of your marketing and promotional success. If you do one thing to promote your art – ArtSearchLinks.com would be an ideal choice… Bill West first became involved in the visual communications industry in 1972. Eight years later he’d formed his own computer graphics systems company, which integrated Auto cad and 3D visualization programs to the PC. Always a forward thinker, Bill can spot market changes in the making and is good at positioning companies to benefit from that eventuality. A good example of this seeming clairvoyance is the way he jumped on the internet in 1993. By 1995 he had created a respected internet marketing business catering to the visual arts community. With years of knowledge and experience under his belt, Bill is a seasoned entrepreneur, gallery owner (since 1971) and solid supporter of the arts. Bill works to pave the way for all artists, both seasoned as well as new and upcoming artist talent.

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