Conformable amplified lead zirconate titanate sensors with enhanced piezoelectric response for cutaneous pressure monitoring

Nat Commun. 2014 Aug 5;5:4496. doi: 10.1038/ncomms5496.


The ability to measure subtle changes in arterial pressure using devices mounted on the skin can be valuable for monitoring vital signs in emergency care, detecting the early onset of cardiovascular disease and continuously assessing health status. Conventional technologies are well suited for use in traditional clinical settings, but cannot be easily adapted for sustained use during daily activities. Here we introduce a conformal device that avoids these limitations. Ultrathin inorganic piezoelectric and semiconductor materials on elastomer substrates enable amplified, low hysteresis measurements of pressure on the skin, with high levels of sensitivity (~0.005 Pa) and fast response times (~0.1 ms). Experimental and theoretical studies reveal enhanced piezoelectric responses in lead zirconate titanate that follow from integration on soft supports as well as engineering behaviours of the associated devices. Calibrated measurements of pressure variations of blood flow in near-surface arteries demonstrate capabilities for measuring radial artery augmentation index and pulse pressure velocity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Blood Flow Velocity
  • Blood Pressure
  • Calibration
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / diagnosis
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Elastomers
  • Electrochemistry / methods
  • Electrodes
  • Equipment Design
  • Humans
  • Lead / chemistry*
  • Materials Testing
  • Monitoring, Ambulatory / instrumentation
  • Monitoring, Ambulatory / methods
  • Monitoring, Physiologic / instrumentation*
  • Monitoring, Physiologic / methods
  • Nanotechnology / trends
  • Semiconductors
  • Signal-To-Noise Ratio
  • Silicon / chemistry
  • Skin / pathology*
  • Titanium / chemistry*
  • Zirconium / chemistry*


  • Elastomers
  • lead titanate zirconate
  • Lead
  • Zirconium
  • Titanium
  • Silicon