By stacking and connecting layers of stretchable circuits on top of one another, engineers have developed an approach to build soft, pliable “3-D stretchable electronics” that can pack a lot of functions while staying thin and small in size. The work is published in the Aug. 13 issue of Nature Electronics.

As a proof of concept, a team led by the University of California San Diego has built a stretchable electronic patch that can be worn on the skin like a bandage and used to wirelessly monitor a variety of physical and electrical signals, from respiration, to body motion, to temperature, to eye movement, to heart and brain activity. The device, which is as small and thick as a U.S. dollar coin, can also be used to wirelessly control a robotic arm.

“Our vision is to make 3-D stretchable electronics that are as multifunctional and high-performing as today’s rigid electronics,” said senior author Sheng Xu, a professor in the Department of NanoEngineering and the Center for Wearable Sensors, both at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering.

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