DGIST Researchers Have Developed the World's First OFET Nanomesh E-Skin

This electronic skin device is capable of measuring and processing bio-signals for a prolonged period.

The new e-skin can be worn with very little discomfort and won't sustain damage easily. (📷: Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology)

Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology (DGIST) researchers have created the first-ever ultrathin nanomesh OFET electronic skin device. Integrating the device with varying sensors enables it to measure bio-signals on the skin and optimize data processing. This latest development paves the way toward integrated systems for e-skin devices.

More relevant technologies are constantly under development due to growing interest in smart healthcare systems with wearable devices. People need a wearable soft sensor on their skin to measure biosignals through a real-time healthcare system. For that reason, wearable skin electronics are fabricated with flat surface substrates.

Wearing a substrate with flat surfaces and low liquid and vapor permeability on biological skin unexpectedly causes diseases, including atopy, metabolic disorders, etc. That's why electronic devices must be designed with high permeability, which would allow long-term wearability. This led to research involving polymer nanofiber-based nanomesh devices with good permeability. The team's nanomesh OFET device causes minimal discomfort, and different sensors can be integrated. Their device works when folding or curving it and doesn't have performance issues from 1,000 deformations and high humidity.

Fabricating nanomesh transistors has proven difficult due to the rough surface and lack of mechanical robustness and thermal and chemical stability. Thankfully, the researchers solved all those issues by using Parylene C as a biocompatible coating. Additionally, "the conventional vacuum deposition method was used for simpler processing instead of synthesizing or high-temperature processing."

"We have successfully developed a nanomesh organic field-effect transistor for the first time and demonstrated an integrated active-matrix tactile sensor," explains DGIST professor Lee Sungwon. "The development of transistors was essential for building a complex circuit, and now with the nanomesh electronic skin device, long-term measurement and processing of physiological data in real-time is possible."

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