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Smart skin: Electronics that stick and stretch like a temporary tattoo
Date:8/12/2011

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. Engineers have developed a device platform that combines electronic components for sensing, medical diagnostics, communications and human-machine interfaces, all on an ultrathin skin-like patch that mounts directly onto the skin with the ease, flexibility and comfort of a temporary tattoo.

Led by researcher John A. Rogers, the Lee J. Flory-Founder professor of engineering at the University of Illinois, the researchers described their novel skin-mounted electronics in the Aug. 12 issue of the journal Science.

The circuit bends, wrinkles, and stretches with the mechanical properties of skin. The researchers demonstrated their concept through a diverse array of electronic components mounted on a thin, rubbery substrate, including sensors, LEDs, transistors, radio frequency capacitors, wireless antennas, and conductive coils and solar cells for power.

"We threw everything in our bag of tricks onto that platform, and then added a few other new ideas on top of those, to show that we could make it work," said Rogers, a professor of materials science and engineering, of chemistry, of mechanical science and engineering, of bioengineering and of electrical and computer engineering. He also is affiliated with the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, and with the Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory at U. of I.

The patches are initially mounted on a thin sheet of water-soluble plastic, then laminated to the skin with water just like applying a temporary tattoo. Alternately, the electronic components can be applied directly to a temporary tattoo itself, providing concealment for the electronics.

"We think this could be an important conceptual advance in wearable electronics, to achieve something that is almost unnoticeable to the wearer," said U. of I. electrical and computer engineering professor Todd Coleman, who co-led the multi-disciplinary team. "The technology can connec
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Contact: Liz Ahlberg
eahlberg@illinois.edu
217-244-1073
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source:Eurekalert

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