An ultrathin electronic skin (e-skin) that can measure oxygen levels when stuck to the body has been developed by Japanese scientists. The e-skin is developed using flexible electronics that can be worn as a second skin for biomedical applications.
The e-skin can be used by athletes to view their heart rates, sugar levels, and work rate. This helps provide doctors with continuous vital signs without the need for repeatedly attaching and removing medical equipment. While others could use e-skin to monitor their body health metrics.
"Such is the promise of ultra-thin, flexible, and non-constraining skin-level electronics," said Takao Someya, head of the research group seeking to develop e-skin at the University of Tokyo's Graduate School of Engineering.
The scientists attached transparent indium tin oxide (ITO) electrodes to an ultrathin substrate without damaging it, making the e-skin display possible. They created polymer light-emitting diodes (PLEDs) and organic photodetectors (OPDs), using new protective layer and ITO electrodes.
The PLEDs were three micrometers thick and over six times more efficient than previously reported ultrathin PLEDs. Researchers combined red and green PLEDs with a photodetector to demonstrate a blood oxygen sensor.
"The device unobtrusively measures the oxygen concentration of blood when laminated on a finger," said lead researcher Tomoyuki Yokota and colleagues.
"Ultimately, flexible organic optical sensors may be directly laminated on organs to monitor the blood oxygen level during and after surgery," he added.