Wearable patch sensors may enable convenient continuous biometric monitoring, but they also raise questions about comfort and consistent adhesion. We’ve written about a wide range of patch sensors, including examples that track pH, blood pressure, and cortisol. IDTechEx Research published a report last year that predicts rapid growth for electronic skin patches through 2028, but most studies focus on the technologies involved with reading vital signs.

Researchers at the Advanced Institute of Nanotechnology at Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU) and the Department of Smart Textile Convergence Research, Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology (DGIST), both in the Republic of Korea, focused on discovering a low-cost, comfortable and stretchable fabric sensor material that adheres to the skin in both wet and dry conditions. The goal was to develop a fabric to support further wearable developments.

The team published a report on their development of a graphene-based adhesive conductor fabric in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces. The researchers started with an elastic polyurethane and polyester fabric yarn that they coated with graphene oxide. Next, the team added a coating of conductive graphene and polydimethysiloxane (PDMS) film on the skin side of the fabric. For greater adhesion, the researchers etched the PDMS film with patterns that resemble small octopus suckers. The flexible sensor fabric with the octopus “sucker” patterns adhered to the skin in test conditions and successfully detected motion, pressure, movement, ECG signals, and speech vibrations when wet or dry.

The Korean fabric sensor development is an enabling technology that provides a material other groups can use as a base for future wearable biosensor technology research. The fact that it does not rely on adhesive layers could reduce the chances of skin irritation and allow for long-term applications.