Graphene and silk combine to make self-healable, multifunctional electronic tattoos

Home / News / Graphene and silk combine to make self-healable, multifunctional electronic tattoos

Electronic tattoos (e-tattoos) – or epidermal electronics – are an extremely thin form of wearable electronics. They are lightweight and soft, which allows them to be intimately mounted on human skin for noninvasive, high-fidelity sensing.

In previous Nanowerk Spotlights we have already reported on various applications for these e-tattoos, be it as stick-on dosimeters to measure UV exposuregraphene-based skin biosensors, or lab-on-skin for wearable health monitoring.

During the operation of e-tattoos, they are constantly exposed to external mechanical inputs such as bending, twisting, pressing, and cutting, which may cause mechanical damage and lead to malfunction.

In new work reported in Advanced Functional Materials (“Self-Healable Multifunctional Electronic Tattoos Based on Silk and Graphene”), researchers in China have demonstrated a self-healing silk e-tattoo that shows high sensitivity to multiple stimuli, including strain, humidity, and temperature based on a unique graphene, silk fibroin, Ca2+ (Gr/SF/Ca2+) combination.

“We developed our self-healing, biocompatible and multifunctional e-tattoo by incorporating graphene with silk fibroin/Ca2+ films,” Yingying Zhang, Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry and the Center for Nano and Micro Mechanics at Tsinghua University, explains to Nanowerk. “We show that custom-designed and highly flexible e-tattoos can be facilely prepared through screen printing or direct writing of a graphene/silk fibroin/Ca2+ suspension.”

The graphene flakes distributed in the matrix form an electrically conductive path that is responsive to environmental changes, such as strain, humidity, and temperature variations, endowing the e-tattoo with high sensitivity to multi-stimuli.

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About the National Graphene Association (NGA)

The National Graphene Association is the main organization and body in the U.S. advocating and promoting the commercialization of graphene. NGA is focused on addressing critical issues such as policy and standards development that will result in effective integration of graphene and graphene based materials globally. NGA brings together current and future graphene stakeholders — entrepreneurs, companies, researchers, developers and suppliers, investors, venture capitalists and government agencies — to drive innovation, and to promote and facilitate the commercialization of graphene products and technologies.

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