Skin-Inspired Electronics: An Emerging Paradigm.Acc Chem Res 2018; 51(5):1033-1045AC
Future electronics will take on more important roles in people's lives. They need to allow more intimate contact with human beings to enable advanced health monitoring, disease detection, medical therapies, and human-machine interfacing. However, current electronics are rigid, nondegradable and cannot self-repair, while the human body is soft, dynamic, stretchable, biodegradable, and self-healing. Therefore, it is critical to develop a new class of electronic materials that incorporate skinlike properties, including stretchability for conformable integration, minimal discomfort and suppressed invasive reactions; self-healing for long-term durability under harsh mechanical conditions; and biodegradability for reducing environmental impact and obviating the need for secondary device removal for medical implants. These demands have fueled the development of a new generation of electronic materials, primarily composed of polymers and polymer composites with both high electrical performance and skinlike properties, and consequently led to a new paradigm of electronics, termed "skin-inspired electronics". This Account covers recent important advances in skin-inspired electronics, from basic material developments to device components and proof-of-concept demonstrations for integrated bioelectronics applications. To date, stretchability has been the most prominent focus in this field. In contrast to strain-engineering approaches that extrinsically impart stretchability into inorganic electronics, intrinsically stretchable materials provide a direct route to achieve higher mechanical robustness, higher device density, and scalable fabrication. The key is the introduction of strain-dissipation mechanisms into the material design, which has been realized through molecular engineering (e.g., soft molecular segments, dynamic bonds) and physical engineering (e.g., nanoconfinement effect, geometric design). The material design concepts have led to the successful demonstrations of stretchable conductors, semiconductors, and dielectrics without sacrificing their electrical performance. Employing such materials, innovative device design coupled with fabrication method development has enabled stretchable sensors and displays as input/output components and large-scale transistor arrays for circuits and active matrixes. Strategies to incorporate self-healing into electronic materials are the second focus of this Account. To date, dynamic intermolecular interactions have been the most effective approach for imparting self-healing properties onto polymeric electronic materials, which have been utilized to fabricate self-healing sensors and actuators. Moreover, biodegradability has emerged as an important feature in skin-inspired electronics. The incorporation of degradable moieties along the polymer backbone allows for degradable conducting polymers and the use of bioderived materials has led to the demonstration of biodegradable functional devices, such as sensors and transistors. Finally, we highlight examples of skin-inspired electronics for three major applications: prosthetic e-skins, wearable electronics, and implantable electronics.