Faculty Tutorial: Skin-Inspired Sensors, Circuits, Displays

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Skin-Inspired Sensors, Circuits, Displays
Tuesday, May 31, 2022 - 11:00am to 12:00pm
Zhenan Bao - Stanford University
Abstract / Description: 

Skin is the body’s largest organ. It is responsible for the transduction of a vast amount of information. This conformable, stretchable, self-healable and biodegradable material simultaneously collects signals from external stimuli that translate into information such as pressure, pain, and temperature. The development of electronic materials, inspired by the complexity of this organ is a tremendous, unrealized materials challenge. However, the advent of organic-based electronic materials may offer a potential solution to this longstanding problem. Over the past decade, we have developed materials design concepts to add skin-like functions to organic electronic materials without compromising their electronic properties. These new materials and new devices enabled arrange of new applications in medical devices, robotics and wearable electronics. In this talk, I will discuss basic material design concepts for realizing stretchable, self-healable and biodegradable conductive or semiconductive materials. I will discuss materials developments, sensor design, methods for scalable fabrication of stretchable electronic circuit blocks and stretchable displays. I will describe a few examples of applications on wearables and implantables.

Images of stretchable electronic skin. Image credit: Amir Foudeh, Sihong Liu of Bao Group, Stanford University


  1. Y.Q. Zheng, Y. Liu, D. Zhong, S. Nikzad, S. Liu, Z. Yu, D. Liu, H.C. Wu, C. Zhu, J. Li, H. Tran, J.B. Tok, Z. Bao, “Monolithic optical microlithography of high-density elastic circuits”, Science 373, 88-94, 2021.
  2. J. Liu, Y. S. Kim, C. E. Richardson, A. Tom, C. Ramakrishnan, F. Birey, T. Katsumata, S. Chen, C. Wang, X. Wang, L.-M. Joubert, Y. Jiang, H. Wang, L. E. Fenno, J. B.-H. Tok, S. P. Pasca, K. Shen, Z. Bao, K. Deisseroth, "Genetically targeted chemical assembly of functional materials in living cells, tissues, and animals", Science, 367, 1372-1376, 2020.
  3. Y. Liu, J. Li, S. Song, J. Kang, Y. Tsao, S. Chen, V. Mottini, K. McConnell, W. Xu, Y.-Q. Zheng, J. B.-H. Tok, P. M. George, Z. Bao , "Morphing electronics enable neuromodulation in growing tissue", Nat. Biotechnol., 38, 2020.
  4. S. Niu, N. Matsuhisa, L. Beker, J. Li, S. Wang, J. Wang, Y. Jiang, X. Yan, Y. Yun, W. Burnett, A. S. Y. Poon, J. B.-H. Tok, X. Chen, Z. Bao, "A wireless body area sensor network based on stretchable passive tags", Nature Elec., 2, 361-368, 2019.
  5. C. M. Boutry, L. Beker, Y. Kaizawa, C. Vassos, H. Tran, A. C. Hinckley, R. Pfattner, S. Niu, J. Li, J. Claverie, Z. Wang, J. Chang, P. M. Fox, Z. Bao, "Biodegradable and flexible arterial-pulse sensor for the wireless monitoring of blood flow", Nature Biomed. Eng., 3, 47-57, 2019.
  6. Y. Liu, J. Liu, S. Chen, T. Lei, Y. Kim, S. Niu, H. Wang, X. Wang, A. M. Foudeh, J. B.-H. Tok, Z. Bao, "Soft and elastic hydrogel-based microelectronics for localized low-voltage neuromodulation", Nature Biomed. Eng., 3, 58-68, 2019.
  7. S. Wang, J. Xu, W. Wang, G.-J. N. Wang, R. Rastak, F. Molina-Lopez, J. W. Chung, S. Niu, V. R. Feig, J. Lopez, T. Lei, S.-K. Kwon, Y. Kim, A. M. Foudeh, A. Ehrlich, A. Gasperini, Y. Yun, B. Murmann, J. B.-H. Tok, Z. Bao, "Skin electronics from scalable fabrication of an intrinsically stretchable transistor array", Nature, 555, 83-88, 2018.
  8. Y. Kim, A. Chortos, W. Xu, Y. Liu, J. Y. Oh, D. Son, J. Kang, A. M. Foudeh, C. Zhu, Y. Lee, S. Niu, J. Liu, R. Pfattner, Z. Bao, T.-W. Lee, "A bioinspired flexible organic artificial afferent nerve", Science, 360, 998-1003, 2018.
  9. B. Chu, W. Burnett, JW. Chung, Z. Bao, "Bring on the bodyNET", Nature, 355, 328-330, 2017.
  10. J. Xu, S. Wang, G.-J. N. Wang, C. Zhu, S. Luo, L. Jin, X. Gu, S. Chen, V. R. Feig, J. W. F. To, S. Rondeau-Gagné, J. Park, B. C. Schroeder, C. Lu, J. Y. Oh, Y. Wang, Y.-H. Kim, H. Yan, R. Sinclair, D. Zhou, G. Xue, B. Murmann, C. Linder, W. Cai, J. B.-H. Tok, J. W. Chung, Z. Bao, "Highly stretchable polymer semiconductor films through the nanoconfinement effect", Science, 355, 59-64, 2017.

*This talk is for the SystemX Faculty Tutorials, an exciting new way for our faculty members to share their current research work with our SystemX Members, outside of our larger events.


Zhenan Bao is Department Chair and K.K. Lee Professor of Chemical Engineering, and by courtesy, a Professor of Chemistry and a Professor of Material Science and Engineering at Stanford University. Bao founded the Stanford Wearable Electronics Initiate (eWEAR) in 2016 and serves as the faculty director. 

Prior to joining Stanford in 2004, she was a Distinguished Member of Technical Staff in Bell Labs, Lucent Technologies from 1995-2004. She received her Ph.D in Chemistry from the University of Chicago in 1995.  She has over 700 refereed publications and over 100 US patents with a Google Scholar H-Index of 190. 

Bao is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Inventors. She is a foreign member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. She is a Fellow of MRS, ACS, AAAS, SPIE, ACS PMSE and ACS POLY.

Bao is the inaugural recipient of the VinFuture Prize Female Innovator 2022, the ACS Chemistry of Materials Award 2022, MRS Mid-Career Award in 2021, AICHE Alpha Chi Sigma Award 2021, ACS Central Science Disruptor and Innovator Prize in 2020, Gibbs Medal by the Chicago session of ACS in 2020, Wilhelm Exner Medal by Austrian Federal Minister of Science 2018, ACS Award on Applied Polymer Science 2017, L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Award in the Physical Sciences 2017, AICHE Andreas Acrivos Award for Professional Progress in Chemical Engineering in 2014, ACS Carl Marvel Creative Polymer Chemistry Award in 2013, ACS Cope Scholar Award in 2011, Royal Society of Chemistry Beilby Medal and Prize in 2009, IUPAC Creativity in Applied Polymer Science Prize in 2008. 

Bao is a co-founder and on the Board of Directors for C3 Nano and PyrAmes, both are silicon-valley venture funded start-ups. She serves as an advising Partner for Fusion Venture Capital and advisors for multiple start-ups.