Shown above is the mechanism of protecting human skin with a surface-lighting MicroLED patch. Photo courtesy of KAIST

New tech inhibits UV-induced melanogenesis

A team of researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) announced on Nov. 22 that they had developed a surface-lighting microLED patch for UV-induced melanogenesis inhibition.

The team headed by Prof. Lee Keon-jae said that the new technology would help people with the various problems related to ultraviolet light.

Tjeu fabricated skin-attachable surface-lighting patch by utilizing a thousand of microLED chips and silica-embedded light diffusion layer.

LED chips sized at 100 µm are vertically-interconnected for high flexibility and low heat generation, allowing its long-term operation on the human skin, according to the team.

Melanin is a brown or dark pigment existing in the skin, which can be abnormally synthesized by external UV or stress.

Since excessive melanin leads to skin diseases such as spots and freckles, proper treatment is required to return to normal skin conditions. 

“Recently, LED-based photo-stimulators have been released for skin care, however, their therapeutic effect is still controversial,” Prof. Lee said.

“Since conventional LED stimulators cannot conformally attach to the human skin, distance-induced side effects are caused by light loss and high heat transfer.”

To achieve effective photo-treatment, he noted that the LED stimulator needed to be irradiated in contact with the human skin surface, enabling proper and uniform light delivered to the dermis with minimal optical loss.

The research team confirmed melanogenesis inhibition by irradiating the LED patch and the conventional LED on the artificial human skin and mice dorsal skin. 

The team claimed that the former had shown minimal epidermal photo-toxicity compared to the latter, proving its effectiveness in reducing synthesized melanin.

Prof. Kwon said that his team’s technology had outstanding characteristics in light efficiency, reliability, and durability, to show off its commercial viability.