Researchers at NASA have developed a new substance that generates minute amounts of electricity, for use in a bandage that takes advantage of an electrically-based healing process. This new substance, a polymer called polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF), produces a mild electrical current when pressure or heat, such as body heat, is applied to it.
“This method utilizes generated low level electrical stimulation to promote the wound healing process while simultaneously protecting it from infection,” according to NASA.
The idea behind PVDF is that it can be woven into a nanofiber gauze that can be used to support the cells that are healing the wound, essentially a form of scaffolding for the new tissue. The electrical current produced by the PVDF then helps stimulate the cells, speeding the healing of the wound.
While the medical benefits of such a bandage are obvious here on Earth, healing injuries in space are problematic, as cuts and bruises in microgravity take longer to heal, due to changes in the circulation of blood throughout the body.