New design for stretchable sensors handles strain, weak signals

January 26, 2021 //By Jean-Pierre Joosting
New design for stretchable sensors handles strain, weak signals
Researchers create sensors that enable electronics to stretch without compromising data, leading to new healthcare monitoring applications.

Electronic sensors tend to be made of brittle, inorganic material that prevents them from stretching and bending on skin or within bodies. Recent technological advances have made stretchable sensors possible, but their changes in shape can affect the data produced, and many sensors cannot collect and process the body's faintest signals.

To address this problem, a new sensor design from the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME) at the University of Chicago incorporates a patterned material that optimizes strain distribution among transistors. This design enables stretchable electronics that are less compromised by deformation. The researchers also created several circuit elements with the design, which could lead to even more types of stretchable electronics.

Assistant Professor, Sihong Wang, who led the research, is already testing his design as a diagnostic tool for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a nervous system disease that causes loss of muscle control.

"We want to develop new kinds of electronics that can integrate with the human body," he said.

"This new design allows electronics to stretch without compromising data and could ultimately help lead us to an out-of-clinic approach for monitoring our health.”

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