Doctor of Philosophy, Georgia Institute of Technology, Materials Science and Engineering (2016)
Master of Science, Georgia Institute of Technology, Electrical and Computer Engineering (2015)
Bachelor of Engineering, Tsinghua Univeristy, Microelectronics (2011)
Zhenan Bao, Postdoctoral Faculty Sponsor
- A wireless body area sensor network based on stretchable passive tags NATURE ELECTRONICS 2019; 2 (8): 361–68
- Soft and elastic hydrogel-based microelectronics for localized low-voltage neuromodulation NATURE BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERING 2019; 3 (1): 58–68
- Biodegradable and flexible arterial-pulse sensor for the wireless monitoring of blood flow NATURE BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERING 2019; 3 (1): 47–57
Soft and elastic hydrogel-based microelectronics for localized low-voltage neuromodulation.
Nature biomedical engineering
2019; 3 (1): 58–68
Narrowing the mechanical mismatch between tissue and implantable microelectronics is essential for reducing immune responses and for accommodating body movement. However, the design of implantable soft electronics (on the order of 10 kPa in modulus) remains a challenge because of the limited availability of suitable electronic materials. Here, we report electrically conductive hydrogel-based elastic microelectronics with Young's modulus values in the kilopascal range. The system consists of a highly conductive soft hydrogel as a conductor and an elastic fluorinated photoresist as the passivation insulation layer. Owing to the high volumetric capacitance and the passivation layer of the hydrogel, electrode arrays of the thin-film hydrogel 'elastronics', 20 μm in feature size, show a significantly reduced interfacial impedance with tissue, a current-injection density that is ~30 times higher than that of platinum electrodes, and stable electrical performance under strain. We demonstrate the use of the soft elastronic arrays for localized low-voltage electrical stimulation of the sciatic nerve in live mice.
View details for PubMedID 30932073
Biodegradable and flexible arterial-pulse sensor for the wireless monitoring of blood flow.
Nature biomedical engineering
2019; 3 (1): 47–57
The ability to monitor blood flow is critical to patient recovery and patient outcomes after complex reconstructive surgeries. Clinically available wired implantable monitoring technology requires careful fixation for accurate detection and needs to be removed after use. Here, we report the design of a pressure sensor, made entirely of biodegradable materials and based on fringe-field capacitor technology, for measuring arterial blood flow in both contact and non-contact modes. The sensor is operated wirelessly through inductive coupling, has minimal hysteresis, fast response times, excellent cycling stability, is highly robust, allows for easy mounting and eliminates the need for removal, thus reducing the risk of vessel trauma. We demonstrate the operation of the sensor with a custom-made artificial artery model and in vivo in rats. This technology may be advantageous in real-time post-operative monitoring of blood flow after reconstructive surgery.
View details for PubMedID 30932072
An Elastic Autonomous Self-Healing Capacitive Sensor Based on a Dynamic Dual Crosslinked Chemical System
2018; 30 (33): e1801435
Adopting self-healing, robust, and stretchable materials is a promising method to enable next-generation wearable electronic devices, touch screens, and soft robotics. Both elasticity and self-healing are important qualities for substrate materials as they comprise the majority of device components. However, most autonomous self-healing materials reported to date have poor elastic properties, i.e., they possess only modest mechanical strength and recoverability. Here, a substrate material designed is reported based on a combination of dynamic metal-coordinated bonds (β-diketone-europium interaction) and hydrogen bonds together in a multiphase separated network. Importantly, this material is able to undergo self-healing and exhibits excellent elasticity. The polymer network forms a microphase-separated structure and exhibits a high stress at break (≈1.8 MPa) and high fracture strain (≈900%). Additionally, it is observed that the substrate can achieve up to 98% self-healing efficiency after 48 h at 25 °C, without the need of any external stimuli. A stretchable and self-healable dielectric layer is fabricated with a dual-dynamic bonding polymer system and self-healable conductive layers are created using polymer as a matrix for a silver composite. These materials are employed to prepare capacitive sensors to demonstrate a stretchable and self-healable touch pad.
View details for PubMedID 29978512
A bioinspired flexible organic artificial afferent nerve
2018; 360 (6392): 998-+
The distributed network of receptors, neurons, and synapses in the somatosensory system efficiently processes complex tactile information. We used flexible organic electronics to mimic the functions of a sensory nerve. Our artificial afferent nerve collects pressure information (1 to 80 kilopascals) from clusters of pressure sensors, converts the pressure information into action potentials (0 to 100 hertz) by using ring oscillators, and integrates the action potentials from multiple ring oscillators with a synaptic transistor. Biomimetic hierarchical structures can detect movement of an object, combine simultaneous pressure inputs, and distinguish braille characters. Furthermore, we connected our artificial afferent nerve to motor nerves to construct a hybrid bioelectronic reflex arc to actuate muscles. Our system has potential applications in neurorobotics and neuroprosthetics.
View details for PubMedID 29853682
Quadruple H-Bonding Cross-Linked Supramolecular Polymeric Materials as Substrates for Stretchable, Antitearing, and Self-Healable Thin Film Electrodes
JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY
2018; 140 (15): 5280–89
Herein, we report a de novo chemical design of supramolecular polymer materials (SPMs-1-3) by condensation polymerization, consisting of (i) soft polymeric chains (polytetramethylene glycol and tetraethylene glycol) and (ii) strong and reversible quadruple H-bonding cross-linkers (from 0 to 30 mol %). The former contributes to the formation of the soft domain of the SPMs, and the latter furnishes the SPMs with desirable mechanical properties, thereby producing soft, stretchable, yet tough elastomers. The resulting SPM-2 was observed to be highly stretchable (up to 17 000% strain), tough (fracture energy ∼30 000 J/m2), and self-healing, which are highly desirable properties and are superior to previously reported elastomers and tough hydrogels. Furthermore, a gold, thin film electrode deposited on this SPM substrate retains its conductivity and combines high stretchability (∼400%), fracture/notch insensitivity, self-healing, and good interfacial adhesion with the gold film. Again, these properties are all highly complementary to commonly used polydimethylsiloxane-based thin film metal electrodes. Last, we proceed to demonstrate the practical utility of our fabricated electrode via both in vivo and in vitro measurements of electromyography signals. This fundamental understanding obtained from the investigation of these SPMs will facilitate the progress of intelligent soft materials and flexible electronics.
View details for PubMedID 29595956
Skin electronics from scalable fabrication of an intrinsically stretchable transistor array
2018; 555 (7694): 83-+
Skin-like electronics that can adhere seamlessly to human skin or within the body are highly desirable for applications such as health monitoring, medical treatment, medical implants and biological studies, and for technologies that include human-machine interfaces, soft robotics and augmented reality. Rendering such electronics soft and stretchable-like human skin-would make them more comfortable to wear, and, through increased contact area, would greatly enhance the fidelity of signals acquired from the skin. Structural engineering of rigid inorganic and organic devices has enabled circuit-level stretchability, but this requires sophisticated fabrication techniques and usually suffers from reduced densities of devices within an array. We reasoned that the desired parameters, such as higher mechanical deformability and robustness, improved skin compatibility and higher device density, could be provided by using intrinsically stretchable polymer materials instead. However, the production of intrinsically stretchable materials and devices is still largely in its infancy: such materials have been reported, but functional, intrinsically stretchable electronics have yet to be demonstrated owing to the lack of a scalable fabrication technology. Here we describe a fabrication process that enables high yield and uniformity from a variety of intrinsically stretchable electronic polymers. We demonstrate an intrinsically stretchable polymer transistor array with an unprecedented device density of 347 transistors per square centimetre. The transistors have an average charge-carrier mobility comparable to that of amorphous silicon, varying only slightly (within one order of magnitude) when subjected to 100 per cent strain for 1,000 cycles, without current-voltage hysteresis. Our transistor arrays thus constitute intrinsically stretchable skin electronics, and include an active matrix for sensory arrays, as well as analogue and digital circuit elements. Our process offers a general platform for incorporating other intrinsically stretchable polymer materials, enabling the fabrication of next-generation stretchable skin electronic devices.
View details for PubMedID 29466334