Soft Electronic and Microfluidic Systems for the Skin

By John A. Rogers

Materials Science and Engineering, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL

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Biological systems are mechanically soft, with complex, 3D curvilinear shapes; modern electronic technologies are rigid, with simple, 2D layouts. Technologies that eliminate this profound mismatch in physical properties create opportunities for devices that can intimately integrate with the body, for diagnostic, therapeutic or surgical function with important, unique capabilities in biomedical research and clinical healthcare. Over the last decade, a convergence of new concepts in materials science, physics, electrical engineering and advanced manufacturing has led to the emergence of diverse, novel classes of 'biocompatible' electronic platforms. This talk describes the key ideas, and presents some of the most recent device examples, including wireless, skin-like electronic 'tattoos' for continuous monitoring of vital signs in neonatal intensive care, microfluidic/electronic platforms that can capture, store and perform biomarker analysis on sweat, and 3D open-mesh electronic mesostructures for active cellular scaffolds.


John A. Rogers Professor John A. Rogers obtained BA and BS degrees in chemistry and in physics from the University of Texas, Austin, in 1989. From MIT, he received SM degrees in physics and in chemistry in 1992 and the PhD degree in physical chemistry in 1995. From 1995 to 1997, Rogers was a Junior Fellow in the Harvard University Society of Fellows. During this time he also served as a founder and Director of Active Impulse Systems, a company that commercialized technologies developed during his PhD work. He joined Bell Laboratories as a Member of Technical Staff in the Condensed Matter Physics Research Department in 1997, and served as Director of this department from the end of 2000 to the end of 2002.

From 2003-2016, he was on the faculty at University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign, where he held a Swanlund Chair, the highest chaired position at the university, with a primary appointment in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, and joint appointments in the Departments of Chemistry, Bioengineering, Mechanical Science and Engineering, and Electrical and Computer Engineering. He served as the Director of a Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center on nanomanufacturing, funded by the National Science Foundation, from 2009-2012 and as Director of the Seitz Materials Research Laboratory from 2012 to 2016.

In September of 2016, he joined Northwestern University as the Louis Simpson and Kimberly Querrey Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Chemistry and Neurological Surgery, where he is also the founding Director of the newly endowed Center on Bio-Integrated Electronics.

Rogers’ research includes fundamental and applied aspects of nano and molecular scale fabrication as well as materials and patterning techniques for unusual electronic and photonic devices, with an emphasis on bio-integrated and bio-inspired systems. He has published more than 650 papers, and is an inventor on over 100 patents and patent applications, more than 70 of which are licensed or in active use by large companies and startups that he has co-founded.

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  • John A. Rogers (2019), "Soft Electronic and Microfluidic Systems for the Skin,"

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