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      Ultraflexible organic photonic skin

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          Optoelectronic electronic skins, or e-skins, introduce electronic sensing and displays on the surface of human skin.


          Thin-film electronics intimately laminated onto the skin imperceptibly equip the human body with electronic components for health-monitoring and information technologies. When electronic devices are worn, the mechanical flexibility and/or stretchability of thin-film devices helps to minimize the stress and discomfort associated with wear because of their conformability and softness. For industrial applications, it is important to fabricate wearable devices using processing methods that maximize throughput and minimize cost. We demonstrate ultraflexible and conformable three-color, highly efficient polymer light-emitting diodes (PLEDs) and organic photodetectors (OPDs) to realize optoelectronic skins (oe-skins) that introduce multiple electronic functionalities such as sensing and displays on the surface of human skin. The total thickness of the devices, including the substrate and encapsulation layer, is only 3 μm, which is one order of magnitude thinner than the epidermal layer of human skin. By integrating green and red PLEDs with OPDs, we fabricate an ultraflexible reflective pulse oximeter. The device unobtrusively measures the oxygen concentration of blood when laminated on a finger. On-skin seven-segment digital displays and color indicators can visualize data directly on the body.

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          Most cited references 14

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          An ultra-lightweight design for imperceptible plastic electronics.

          Electronic devices have advanced from their heavy, bulky origins to become smart, mobile appliances. Nevertheless, they remain rigid, which precludes their intimate integration into everyday life. Flexible, textile and stretchable electronics are emerging research areas and may yield mainstream technologies. Rollable and unbreakable backplanes with amorphous silicon field-effect transistors on steel substrates only 3 μm thick have been demonstrated. On polymer substrates, bending radii of 0.1 mm have been achieved in flexible electronic devices. Concurrently, the need for compliant electronics that can not only be flexed but also conform to three-dimensional shapes has emerged. Approaches include the transfer of ultrathin polyimide layers encapsulating silicon CMOS circuits onto pre-stretched elastomers, the use of conductive elastomers integrated with organic field-effect transistors (OFETs) on polyimide islands, and fabrication of OFETs and gold interconnects on elastic substrates to realize pressure, temperature and optical sensors. Here we present a platform that makes electronics both virtually unbreakable and imperceptible. Fabricated directly on ultrathin (1 μm) polymer foils, our electronic circuits are light (3 g m(-2)) and ultraflexible and conform to their ambient, dynamic environment. Organic transistors with an ultra-dense oxide gate dielectric a few nanometres thick formed at room temperature enable sophisticated large-area electronic foils with unprecedented mechanical and environmental stability: they withstand repeated bending to radii of 5 μm and less, can be crumpled like paper, accommodate stretching up to 230% on prestrained elastomers, and can be operated at high temperatures and in aqueous environments. Because manufacturing costs of organic electronics are potentially low, imperceptible electronic foils may be as common in the future as plastic wrap is today. Applications include matrix-addressed tactile sensor foils for health care and monitoring, thin-film heaters, temperature and infrared sensors, displays, and organic solar cells.
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            Conformable, flexible, large-area networks of pressure and thermal sensors with organic transistor active matrixes.

            Skin-like sensitivity, or the capability to recognize tactile information, will be an essential feature of future generations of robots, enabling them to operate in unstructured environments. Recently developed large-area pressure sensors made with organic transistors have been proposed for electronic artificial skin (E-skin) applications. These sensors are bendable down to a 2-mm radius, a size that is sufficiently small for the fabrication of human-sized robot fingers. Natural human skin, however, is far more complex than the transistor-based imitations demonstrated so far. It performs other functions, including thermal sensing. Furthermore, without conformability, the application of E-skin on three-dimensional surfaces is impossible. In this work, we have successfully developed conformable, flexible, large-area networks of thermal and pressure sensors based on an organic semiconductor. A plastic film with organic transistor-based electronic circuits is processed to form a net-shaped structure, which allows the E-skin films to be extended by 25%. The net-shaped pressure sensor matrix was attached to the surface of an egg, and pressure images were successfully obtained in this configuration. Then, a similar network of thermal sensors was developed with organic semiconductors. Next, the possible implementation of both pressure and thermal sensors on the surfaces is presented, and, by means of laminated sensor networks, the distributions of pressure and temperature are simultaneously obtained.
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              Silk-molded flexible, ultrasensitive, and highly stable electronic skin for monitoring human physiological signals.

              Flexible and transparent E-skin devices are achieved by combining silk-molded micro-patterned polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) with single-walled carbon nanotube (SWNT) ultrathin films. The E-skin sensing device demonstrates superior sensitivity, a very low detectable pressure limit, a fast response time, and a high stability for the detection of superslight pressures, which may broaden their potential use as cost-effective wearable electronics for healthcare applications. © 2013 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.

                Author and article information

                Sci Adv
                Sci Adv
                Science Advances
                American Association for the Advancement of Science
                April 2016
                15 April 2016
                : 2
                : 4
                [1 ]Department of Electric and Electronic Engineering, The University of Tokyo, 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-8656, Japan.
                Author notes

                Present address: Soft Matter Physics, Linz Institute of Technology, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Altenbergerstrasse 69, 4040 Linz, Austria

                Copyright © 2016, The Authors

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

                Funded by: The JST/ERATO Someya Bio-harmonized electronics project;
                Award ID: ID0EICBI6448
                Award Recipient :
                Research Article
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                Judith Urtula


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