Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Electronic engineering


Conventional ways of making bio-electrodes are generally complicated, expensive and unconformable. Here we describe for the first time the method of applying Ga-based liquid metal ink as drawable electrocardiogram (ECG) electrodes. Such material owns unique merits in both liquid phase conformability and high electrical conductivity, which provides flexible ways for making electrical circuits on skin surface and a prospective substitution of conventional rigid printed circuit boards (PCBs).

Concepts: Electrical conductor, Electroencephalography, Liquid, Electrical conductivity, Electrical engineering, Printed circuit board, Breadboard, Electronic engineering


Slime mould Physarum polycephalum is a single cell visible by the unaided eye. Let the slime mould span two electrodes with a single protoplasmic tube: if the tube is heated to approximately ≈40 °C, the electrical resistance of the protoplasmic tube increases from ≈3 MΩ to ≈10,000 MΩ. The organism’s resistance is not proportional nor correlated to the temperature of its environment. Slime mould can therefore not be considered as a thermistor but rather as a thermic switch. We employ the P. polycephalum thermic switch to prototype hybrid electrical analog summator, NAND gates, and cascade the gates into Flip-Flop latch. Computing operations performed on this bio-hybrid computing circuitry feature high repeatability, reproducibility and comparably low propagation delays.

Concepts: Electric current, Heat, Slime mold, Electronic engineering, Resistor, Physarum polycephalum, Slime molds, Series and parallel circuits


Consumer-wearable activity trackers are electronic devices used for monitoring fitness- and other health-related metrics. The purpose of this systematic review was to summarize the evidence for validity and reliability of popular consumer-wearable activity trackers (Fitbit and Jawbone) and their ability to estimate steps, distance, physical activity, energy expenditure, and sleep.

Concepts: Exercise, Reliability, Capacitor, Electronics, Electronic engineering


Recent advances in materials, mechanics, and electronic device design are rapidly establishing the foundations for health monitoring technologies that have “skin-like” properties, with options in chronic (weeks) integration with the epidermis. The resulting capabilities in physiological sensing greatly exceed those possible with conventional hard electronic systems, such as those found in wrist-mounted wearables, because of the intimate skin interface. However, most examples of such emerging classes of devices require batteries and/or hard-wired connections to enable operation. The work reported here introduces active optoelectronic systems that function without batteries and in an entirely wireless mode, with examples in thin, stretchable platforms designed for multiwavelength optical characterization of the skin. Magnetic inductive coupling and near-field communication (NFC) schemes deliver power to multicolored light-emitting diodes and extract digital data from integrated photodetectors in ways that are compatible with standard NFC-enabled platforms, such as smartphones and tablet computers. Examples in the monitoring of heart rate and temporal dynamics of arterial blood flow, in quantifying tissue oxygenation and ultraviolet dosimetry, and in performing four-color spectroscopic evaluation of the skin demonstrate the versatility of these concepts. The results have potential relevance in both hospital care and at-home diagnostics.

Concepts: Blood, Skin, Photodiode, Diode, Electronics, Electronic engineering, Digital, Multi-touch


The miniaturization of electronic devices has been the principal driving force behind the semiconductor industry, and has brought about major improvements in computational power and energy efficiency. Although advances with silicon-based electronics continue to be made, alternative technologies are being explored. Digital circuits based on transistors fabricated from carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have the potential to outperform silicon by improving the energy-delay product, a metric of energy efficiency, by more than an order of magnitude. Hence, CNTs are an exciting complement to existing semiconductor technologies. Owing to substantial fundamental imperfections inherent in CNTs, however, only very basic circuit blocks have been demonstrated. Here we show how these imperfections can be overcome, and demonstrate the first computer built entirely using CNT-based transistors. The CNT computer runs an operating system that is capable of multitasking: as a demonstration, we perform counting and integer-sorting simultaneously. In addition, we implement 20 different instructions from the commercial MIPS instruction set to demonstrate the generality of our CNT computer. This experimental demonstration is the most complex carbon-based electronic system yet realized. It is a considerable advance because CNTs are prominent among a variety of emerging technologies that are being considered for the next generation of highly energy-efficient electronic systems.

Concepts: Vacuum tube, Integrated circuit, Transistor, Carbon nanotube, Computer, Diode, Electronics, Electronic engineering


Clinical documentation has undergone a change due to the usage of electronic health records. The core element is to capture clinical findings and document therapy electronically. Health care personnel spend a significant portion of their time on the computer. Alternatives to self-typing, such as speech recognition, are currently believed to increase documentation efficiency and quality, as well as satisfaction of health professionals while accomplishing clinical documentation, but few studies in this area have been published to date.

Concepts: Health care, Medicine, Epidemiology, Clinical trial, Randomized controlled trial, Speech recognition, Electronics, Electronic engineering


Today’s consumer electronics, such as cell phones, tablets and other portable electronic devices, are typically made of non-renewable, non-biodegradable, and sometimes potentially toxic (for example, gallium arsenide) materials. These consumer electronics are frequently upgraded or discarded, leading to serious environmental contamination. Thus, electronic systems consisting of renewable and biodegradable materials and minimal amount of potentially toxic materials are desirable. Here we report high-performance flexible microwave and digital electronics that consume the smallest amount of potentially toxic materials on biobased, biodegradable and flexible cellulose nanofibril papers. Furthermore, we demonstrate gallium arsenide microwave devices, the consumer wireless workhorse, in a transferrable thin-film form. Successful fabrication of key electrical components on the flexible cellulose nanofibril paper with comparable performance to their rigid counterparts and clear demonstration of fungal biodegradation of the cellulose-nanofibril-based electronics suggest that it is feasible to fabricate high-performance flexible electronics using ecofriendly materials.

Concepts: Vacuum tube, Electricity, Integrated circuit, Transistor, Capacitor, Electronics, Radio, Electronic engineering


Pencil traces drawn on print papers are shown to function as strain gauges and chemiresistors. Regular graphite/clay pencils can leave traces composed of percolated networks of fine graphite powders, which exhibit reversible resistance changes upon compressive or tensile deflections. Flexible toy pencils can leave traces that are essentially thin films of graphite/polymer composites, which show reversible changes in resistance upon exposure to volatile organic compounds due to absorption/desorption induced swelling/recovery of the polymer binders. Pencil-on-paper devices are low-cost, extremely simple and rapid to fabricate. They are light, flexible, portable, disposable, and do not generate potentially negative environmental impact during processing and device fabrication. One can envision many other types of pencil drawn paper electronic devices that can take on a great variety of form factors. Hand drawn devices could be useful in resource-limited or emergency situations. They could also lead to new applications integrating art and electronics.

Concepts: Graphite, Writing, Volatile organic compound, Electronics, Electronic engineering, Pencil, Stationery, Grey Knotts


Seamless and minimally invasive three-dimensional interpenetration of electronics within artificial or natural structures could allow for continuous monitoring and manipulation of their properties. Flexible electronics provide a means for conforming electronics to non-planar surfaces, yet targeted delivery of flexible electronics to internal regions remains difficult. Here, we overcome this challenge by demonstrating the syringe injection (and subsequent unfolding) of sub-micrometre-thick, centimetre-scale macroporous mesh electronics through needles with a diameter as small as 100 μm. Our results show that electronic components can be injected into man-made and biological cavities, as well as dense gels and tissue, with >90% device yield. We demonstrate several applications of syringe-injectable electronics as a general approach for interpenetrating flexible electronics with three-dimensional structures, including (1) monitoring internal mechanical strains in polymer cavities, (2) tight integration and low chronic immunoreactivity with several distinct regions of the brain, and (3) in vivo multiplexed neural recording. Moreover, syringe injection enables the delivery of flexible electronics through a rigid shell, the delivery of large-volume flexible electronics that can fill internal cavities, and co-injection of electronics with other materials into host structures, opening up unique applications for flexible electronics.

Concepts: Brain, Minimally invasive, Hypodermic needle, Electronic engineering


Electronics on very thin substrates have shown remarkable bendability, conformability and lightness, which are important attributes for biological tissues sensing, wearable or implantable devices. Here we propose a wafer-scale process scheme to realize ultra flexible, lightweight and transparent electronics on top of a 1-μm thick parylene film that is released from the carrier substrate after the dissolution in water of a polyvinyl- alcohol layer. The thin substrate ensures extreme flexibility, which is demonstrated by transistors that continue to work when wrapped around human hairs. In parallel, the use of amorphous oxide semiconductor and high-K dielectric enables the realization of analogue amplifiers operating at 12 V and above 1 MHz. Electronics can be transferred on any object, surface and on biological tissues like human skin and plant leaves. We foresee a potential application as smart contact lenses, covered with light, transparent and flexible devices, which could serve to monitor intraocular pressure for glaucoma disease.

Concepts: Skin, Transistor, Intraocular pressure, Tissue, Fern, Diode, Electronic engineering, Transistors