Printed multifunctional flexible device with an integrated motion sensor for health care monitoring

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Science Advances  23 Nov 2016:
Vol. 2, no. 11, e1601473
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1601473

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Real-time health care monitoring may enable prediction and prevention of disease or improve treatment by diagnosing illnesses in the early stages. Wearable, comfortable, sensing devices are required to allow continuous monitoring of a person’s health; other important considerations for this technology are device flexibility, low-cost components and processing, and multifunctionality. To address these criteria, we present a flexible, multifunctional printed health care sensor equipped with a three-axis acceleration sensor to monitor physical movement and motion. Because the device is designed to be attached directly onto the skin, it has a modular design with two detachable components: One device component is nondisposable, whereas the other one is disposable and designed to be worn in contact with the skin. The design of this disposable sensing sheet takes into account hygiene concerns and low-cost materials and fabrication methods as well as features integrated, printed sensors to monitor for temperature, acceleration, electrocardiograms, and a kirigami structure, which allows for stretching on skin. The reusable component of the device contains more expensive device components, features an ultraviolet light sensor that is controlled by carbon nanotube thin-film transistors, and has a mechanically flexible and stable liquid metal contact for connection to the disposable sensing sheet. After characterizing the electrical properties of the transistors and flexible sensors, we demonstrate a proof-of-concept device that is capable of health care monitoring combined with detection of physical activity, showing that this device provides an excellent platform for the development of commercially viable, wearable health care monitors.

  • Health care device
  • printed acceleration sensor
  • flexible device

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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