Flexible polymer transistors with high pressure sensitivity for application in electronic skin and health monitoring

Nat Commun. 2013;4:1859. doi: 10.1038/ncomms2832.


Flexible pressure sensors are essential parts of an electronic skin to allow future biomedical prostheses and robots to naturally interact with humans and the environment. Mobile biomonitoring in long-term medical diagnostics is another attractive application for these sensors. Here we report the fabrication of flexible pressure-sensitive organic thin film transistors with a maximum sensitivity of 8.4 kPa(-1), a fast response time of <10 ms, high stability over >15,000 cycles and a low power consumption of <1 mW. The combination of a microstructured polydimethylsiloxane dielectric and the high-mobility semiconducting polyisoindigobithiophene-siloxane in a monolithic transistor design enabled us to operate the devices in the subthreshold regime, where the capacitance change upon compression of the dielectric is strongly amplified. We demonstrate that our sensors can be used for non-invasive, high fidelity, continuous radial artery pulse wave monitoring, which may lead to the use of flexible pressure sensors in mobile health monitoring and remote diagnostics in cardiovascular medicine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Electronics, Medical / instrumentation*
  • Electronics, Medical / methods*
  • Equipment Design
  • Equipment and Supplies
  • Health
  • Humans
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Monitoring, Physiologic / instrumentation*
  • Monitoring, Physiologic / methods*
  • Pliability
  • Polymers / chemistry*
  • Pressure*
  • Pulse
  • Radial Artery / physiology
  • Time Factors
  • Transistors, Electronic*


  • Polymers