User-interactive electronic skin for instantaneous pressure visualization

Nat Mater. 2013 Oct;12(10):899-904. doi: 10.1038/nmat3711. Epub 2013 Jul 21.

Abstract

Electronic skin (e-skin) presents a network of mechanically flexible sensors that can conformally wrap irregular surfaces and spatially map and quantify various stimuli. Previous works on e-skin have focused on the optimization of pressure sensors interfaced with an electronic readout, whereas user interfaces based on a human-readable output were not explored. Here, we report the first user-interactive e-skin that not only spatially maps the applied pressure but also provides an instantaneous visual response through a built-in active-matrix organic light-emitting diode display with red, green and blue pixels. In this system, organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) are turned on locally where the surface is touched, and the intensity of the emitted light quantifies the magnitude of the applied pressure. This work represents a system-on-plastic demonstration where three distinct electronic components--thin-film transistor, pressure sensor and OLED arrays--are monolithically integrated over large areas on a single plastic substrate. The reported e-skin may find a wide range of applications in interactive input/control devices, smart wallpapers, robotics and medical/health monitoring devices.