On the NIH Director’s Blog today (7 April), UC San Diego NanoEngineering professor Darren Lipomi is profiled in a story entitled Stretching the Limits of Wearable Devices. The article highlights some of the research Lipomi and his research group are pursuing thanks in part to a $2.2 million NIH Director’s New Innovator Award that Lipomi received in 2015.
Professor Lipomi and his team have also contributed a chapter on stretchable power sources to a book released on April 7, 2016. The book, “Stretchable Bioelectronics for Medical Devices and Systems,” is edited by John Rogers, Dae-Hyeong Kim, and Roozbeh Ghaffari and published by Springer. UC San Diego has full access to the book via this link.
Lipomi and his research group are leading development of a new class of wearable and implantable organic electronic materials that have properties resembling those of human tissue. Different from other research on “electronic skin,” Lipomi’s research is aimed at creating organic electronic materials that are extremely elastic, biodegradable and capable of self-repair, similar to biological tissues. The work will focus on how to synthesize and modify electronics at the molecular level so that they can have some of the same properties as human skin and tissue.
“We’re proposing a platform technology that would offer a more seamless integration of synthetic electronic systems with the human body than what is currently available,” said Lipomi in the UC San Diego announcement of his NIH Director’s New Innovator Award.
“The idea behind this technology is to take a semiconducting material, like a silicon wafer, and improve it by incorporating properties inspired by biological tissue. This research will significantly re-design electronic materials by making electronic plastics that are not only capable of conducting charge, but can respond well to biological stimuli and be comfortably worn inside and outside the body.”
Long-term applications of this technology include an artificial retina, electronic-skin-like grafts that can restore the sense of touch to prosthetic limbs, and an integrated device capable of continuously monitoring pressure within the skull to determine any associated traumatic brain injury.