Body & Machine — Epidermal Electronics


Chicago Council on Science and Technology presents “Body & Machine: Epidermal Electronics”

CHICAGO, Illinois (November 1, 2013) –From athletes to expectant mothers, sunbathers to surgeons, materials scientist John Rogers is making his mark. Or rather leaving his mark—tiny, stretchy ultra-thin mesh electronics that when adhered to the skin with a special glue are no more visible than a temporary tattoo.

Rogers, a 2009 MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant recipient who teaches both materials science and engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, is busy bringing his inventions to the public. Considered one of the best inventors in the country, Rogers likes to work with entrepreneurs to get inventions out of the lab and into the world.

Along with a team of researchers from the US, China, and Singapore, Rogers has found a way to integrate a hard, brittle semiconductor that exits in the form of rigid wafers, into flexible, stretchable electronics.

This was achieved by making silicon into ultrathin nanomembranes—about 10,000 times thinner than a human hair—and cutting them into wavy shapes, then adding a rubbery membrane, to allow the material to twist and bend. These devices then can be applied to human skin, and move with skin rather seamlessly.

Rogers is co-founder of MC10 Inc., a Cambridge, Mass-based firm that has raised over $33 million, including $10 million from medical –device maker Medtronic. MC10 focuses on four main areas—consumer electronics, medical devices, industrial products and military solutions.

Rogers’ MC10 recently partnered with Reebok to produce the Checklight, a $150 head impact indicator that can be worn by athletes under helmets that captures head impact data milliseconds after hits. In use by little league teams as well as Indianapolis Colts quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Matt Hasselback, the device has already won a Gear Patrol “best in sports” award for head injury awareness.

Many of Rogers’ inventions include the tattoo-like epidermal devices. Applications include hydration sensors which alert athletes via text message when to rehydrate, UV sensors that indicate to wearers when their sunblock protection has worn off, and tattoos that take body temperature.

Rogers and University of California bioengineering professor Todd Coleman were Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Grand Challenges Explorations winners for a global health and development research project that utilized the tattoo-like electronic devices to advance the epidemiology of pre-term birth by continuously monitoring uterine contractions, fetal heart rate and oxygen, and maternal heart rate and body temperature. This technology could provide non-invasive, wireless and continuous pregnancy monitoring of at-risk patients.

Come hear Dr. John Rogers discuss his past discoveries, and what he thinks the future holds. There will be time for you to ask your questions!

DETAILS: Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013. 5pm Registration and reception, 6 pm program. Northwestern University Chicago Campus – Baldwin Auditorium 303 E. Superior St. 60611 Chicago, IL.

Register at Members free. Others $20. Students $5.

For more information, contact Andrea Poet at, or 312/567-5795 or 773/505-6007.

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