Lopes P.A., Paisana H., Almeida A.T., Majidi C., Tavakoli M.

Applied Materials and Interfaces


We introduce a soft ultrathin and stretchable electronic skin with surface-mounted components that can be transferred and wrapped around any three-dimensional (3D) surface or self-adhere to the human skin. The ∼5 μm thick circuit is fabricated by printing the pattern over a temporary tattoo paper using a desktop laser printer, which is then coated with a silver ink and eutectic gallium–indium (EGaIn) liquid metal alloy. The resulting “Ag–In–Ga” traces are highly conductive and maintain low electrical resistivity as the circuit is stretched to conform to nondevelopable 3D surfaces. We also address integration of surface-mounted microelectronic chips by introducing a novel z-axis conductive interface composed of magnetically aligned EGaIn-coated Ag–Ni microparticles embedded in polyvinyl alcohol (PVA). This “zPVA conductive glue” allows for robust electrical contacts with microchips that have pins with dimensions as small as 300 μm. If printed on the temporary tattoo transfer paper, the populated circuit can be attached to a 3D surface using hydrographic transfer. Both printing and interfacing processes can be performed at the room temperature. We demonstrate examples of applications, including an electronic tattoo over the human epidermis for electromyography signal acquisition, an interactive circuit with touch buttons, and light-emitting diodes transferred over the 3D printed shell of a robotic prosthetic hand, and a proximity measurement skin transferred over a 3D surface.

Keywords: anisotropic conductor; EGaIn; electronic tattoo; hydroprinted electronics; liquid metal; printed electronics; silver lnks; stretchable electronics