The work is expected to open up possibilities of a suite of wearable healthcare devices that operate in real-time.
The team from, Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT), published its research in the journal 'Science Advances' in a paper entitled: Standalone real-time health monitoring patch based on a stretchable organic optoelectronic system.
The optically-based photoplethysmography (PPG) sensor is combined with a stretchable organic LED display to produce a device that can be worn on the wrist and measure and display the user's heart rate in real-time.
The team found that the sensor and display continued to operate normally and did not exhibit any performance degradation with elongation of up to 30 percent. The same test also confirmed the unit continued to work stably after being stretched 1,000 times. The team also found that the measured signals from a moving wrist were 2.4 times larger than would be picked up by a fixed silicon sensor.
The research team worked on the elastomer material by tailoring its molecular composition to increase thermal resistance and its resistance to materials used in semiconductor processes. This allowed the elastomer to be subjected to certain semiconductor processes during creation of the unit.
"We applied an 'island' structure to alleviate the stress caused by elongation," said staff researcher Yeongjun Lee, co-first author of the paper, in a statement.
The stretchable sensor was made in a way that makes continuous heartbeat measurements possible with a high degree of sensitivity compared to existing fixed wearable sensors. The solution does this by facilitating close adhesion to the skin, which minimizes performance inconsistencies that can be caused by movement.
"In addition to the heartbeat sensor that was applied in this test case, we plan to incorporate stretchable sensors and high-resolution freeform displays to enable users to monitor things like peripheral oxygen saturation, electromyogram readings and blood pressure," said principal researcher Jong Won Chung, co-first author of the paper, in the same