Zhou Weixin, a doctoral candidate of School of Material Science and Engineering of Nanjing University of Posts and Telecommunications (NJUPT), has issued his research achievements on the world-renowned periodical ACS Nano as the first author, which has then been given a special report by the American Chemical& Engineering NEWS (C&EN) with the headline “Breathable electronics could monitor our health long-term”. Funded by the International Exchange Foundation for Building First-Class Discipline, Zhou received united training at North Carolina State University in 2018. He combined the previous porous electrode preparation technology (ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 2016, 17, 11122; Advanced Materials Technologies, 2019, 4, 1800698) and the epidermal electronic device of his research group at NCSU, and successfully prepared the Gas-permeable, Ultrathin, Stretchable Epidermal Electronics with Porous Electrodes. NJUPT is the first unit of the paper. Professor Ma Yanwen and Professor Zhu Yong of NCSU are joint corresponding authors. Postdoctoral researcher Yao Shanshan (North Carolina State University, Stony Brook University, New York) is the co-first author of the paper, doctoral candidate Wang Hongyu (NCSU) the third, doctoral candidate Du Qingchuan (NJUPT) the fourth.
Epidermal Electronics, an essential part of flexible electronic, is a kind of electronic device which can be implanted into human body. This kind of electronic device is widely used in medical treatment and health and man-machine interface. However, the majority of epidermal electronics known nowadays are prepared on non-porous solid polymer backings (such as polydimethylsiloxane, polyethylene terephthalate and polyamide). On account of the lack of gas permeability, these materials can not only prevent the volatile components of skin secretion like sweat and tear from volatilizing, but also can lower the comfortability of wearing. What’s worse, they can result in allergy. Furthermore, these materials are so hard that they cannot touch the skin tightly and may fall out easily if they are worn for a long period, which is unfavorable for the collection of bio-electricity signals. As a result, it’s significant to develop new materials with soft breathability as backing for long-time application of epidermal electronics.
To address the bottlenecks in the development, the research group combined the experience of Professor Ma’s group in preparation of flexible materials by respiration diagram method with Professor Zhu’s group in the preparation and application of flexible electronics, and put forward the theory of preparing epidermal electronics by means of respiration diagram method, and finally successfully created the porous ultrathin breathable electrode. This kind of electrode has a good permeability, which allows the volatility of sweat. What’s more, it’s so thin (thinner than 10 micrometer) that it can stick to human skin perfectly and improve the monitor quality of biological signals. The research team has achieved good results using these ultra-thin breathable electrodes in bioelectric electrodes and touch sensor electrode, respectively.
It’s worth mentioning that people can wear this material for longer than a week without any allergies. This material can also be integrated on fabrics as touching electrodes with Bluetooth controller, and then be made into sleeve lets with function of wireless control, which can control part of the functions of keyboards when corresponded with computers.
Up to now, this research has been reported by tens of foreign media. As of press time, the Altmetric (which is used to evaluate the social influence) of the paper has been up to 146.