Studies have already shown that by irradiating bald skin using red lasers, hair follicles can be stimulated into growing new hair. Unfortunately, though, such laser setups are large, cumbersome and energy-inefficient. With that in mind, scientists have developed a wearable LED photostimulator.
Led by Prof. Keon Jae Lee, scientists from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) created a flexible array of 900 vertical micro-light-emitting diodes (μLEDs). The whole array fits onto a chip that's "slightly smaller than a postage stamp," is just 20 micrometers thick, and can withstand up to 10,000 bending/unbending cycles.
Additionally, the μLEDs don't heat up enough to damage human skin, and use one one-thousandth the power per unit area as a traditional phototherapeutic laser.
In lab tests, the device was tested on the shaved backs of mice. After 20 days of 15-minute once-daily treatments, the animals regrew their fur significantly faster than shaved mice that received no treatment, or that were getting hair-growth-promoting minoxidil injections. The μLED-array mice also regrew hair over a wider area, and the hairs were considerably longer.
It is now hoped that a larger version of the device could someday be used by humans in their own homes on a daily basis, as opposed to their making trips to use laser systems at clinics.
A paper on the research was recently published in the journal ACS Nano, in which images of the μLED array can be seen.
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