Researchers have made stretchable, ultrathin electronics that cling to skin like a temporary tattoo and can measure electrical activity from the body. These electronic tattoos could allow doctors to diagnose and monitor conditions like heart arrhythmia or sleep disorders noninvasively.
John A. Rogers, a professor of materials science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has developed a prototype that can replicate the monitoring abilities of bulky electrocardiograms and other medical devices that are normally restricted to a clinical or laboratory setting. This work was presented today in Science.
To achieve flexible, stretchable electronics, Rogers employed a principle he had already used to achieve flexibility in substrates. He made the components—all composed of traditional, high-performance materials like silicon—not only incredibly thin, but also "structured into a serpentine shape" that allows them to deform without breaking. The result, says Rogers, is that "the whole system takes on this kind of spiderweb layout."