Flexible e-skin that has embedded polymer light emitting diodes
Flexible e-skin that has embedded polymer light emitting diodes. Someya Laboratory

Ever wish you could laminate electronics onto your skin? Boy, are you in luck. Scientists are bringing us ever closer to becoming one with our smart devices, and they’ve developed a thin, flexible “skin” with embedded polymer light emitting diodes (PLEDs) you can affix to your arm, or face, or wherever else you could use some more electronics.

Researchers from the University of Tokyo have published a study in Science Advances describing the ultra-thin, and surprisingly durable film they developed. The e-skin was flexible enough to survive hundreds of crumples and stretches, while being thin enough to be wearable.

The other piece to this puzzle is longevity. In order to protect the PLEDs from the elements, the researchers devised a special protective film made from silicon oxynitrite and parylene layers. The material keeps oxygen and water vapor from getting to the electronics, which means it can go on lighting up for more than a day. Right now, the proof of concept needs to be hooked up to electrodes for power, and it isn’t doing any sensing. But, in the future, it might be able to harvest power from body heat, or use flexible batteries.

And, as the project develops, the researchers write, “Ultimately, flexible organic optical sensors may be directly laminated on organs to monitor the blood oxygen level during and after surgery.”