Skin is the body’s largest organ. It is responsible for the transduction of a vast amount of information. This conformable, stretchable, self-healable and biodegradable material simultaneously collects signals from external stimuli that translate into information such as pressure, pain, and temperature. The development of electronic materials, inspired by the complexity of this organ is a tremendous, unrealized materials challenge. However, the advent of organic-based electronic materials may offer a potential solution to this longstanding problem. Over the past decade, we have developed materials design concepts to add skin-like functions to organic electronic materials without compromising their electronic properties. An important discovery we made was the ability to nano-confine polymer semiconductors and conductors while maintaining an interconnected conduction pathway. This finding also addressed the long-standing challenge of conformational disorder-limited charge transport with polymer electronic materials. This discovery not only enabled us to introduce various skin-like functions, but also increased polymer electronic material charge transport ability simultaneously. The above fundamental understanding further allowed us to develop direct photo-patterning methods and fabrication processes for high-density large scale soft stretchable integrated circuits. In addition, we developed various soft sensors for continuous measurements, including pressure, strain, shear, temperature, electrophysiological and neurotransmitter sensors. The above sensors and integrated circuits are the foundations for soft bioelectronics and are enabling a broad range of new tools for medical devices, robotics and wearable electronics.
Stanford University, USA