Sounding like something out of a science fiction movie, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have discovered a way to place invisible ‘tattoos’ under the skin of vaccinated patients that can only be seen under ultraviolet light or detected by a special smartphone app.
It will now be as easy as putting a child underneath a handheld scanner to determine if they have or haven’t had their vaccinations.
The newspaper for MIT reports the words of Kevin McHugh, a former MIT postdoc who is now an assistant professor of bioengineering at Rice University…
“In areas where paper vaccination cards are often lost or do not exist at all, and electronic databases are unheard of, this technology could enable the rapid and anonymous detection of patient vaccination history to ensure that every child is vaccinated.”
The researchers showed that their new dye, which consists of nanocrystals called quantum dots, can remain for at least five years under the skin, where it emits near-infrared light that can be detected by a specially equipped smartphone.
The research was funded in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The researchers designed their dye to be delivered by a microneedle patch rather than a traditional syringe and needle. Such patches are now being developed to deliver vaccines for measles, rubella, and other diseases, and the researchers showed that their dye could be easily incorporated into these patches.
Ultraviolet tattoos have gained popularity in recent years as novelty items for those into body art (see example below).
These vaccination records will similarly be available upon being exposed to ultraviolet light.
The MIT rendering of this process is below.