On-skin, passive-cooling electronics

On-skin, passive-cooling electronics

On-skin electronics with thermal management capabilities for body temperature regulation can improve user comfort and reduce energy consumption. Most such devices rely on joule heating, with comparatively little research into the use of passive cooling.

The authors developed on-skin electronic devices with effective passive-cooling capabilities along with other favorable attributes. The substrate for the devices was an elastomer, polystyrene-block-poly(ethylene-ran-butylene)-block-polystyrene, with a multiscale porous structure.

The porous elastomer structure reflected sunlight effectively while allowing radiative body heat loss, leading to passive cooling of approximately 6 ℃ relative to exposed skin. The material was also highly hydrophobic with a high water vapor transmission rate, making it both breathable and waterproof.

By spray printing silver nanowires onto the elastomer substrate, the authors were able to fashion various on-skin bioelectronic devices, such as electrophysiological, temperature, hydration, and pressure sensors and electrical stimulators.

The devices demonstrated comparable performance to conventional electronic devices for the same functions. Notably, the devices could be dissolved in an organic solvent and recycled, thereby reducing electronic waste and manufacturing costs.

Such technology could form the basis for smart textiles with passive-cooling capabilities, according to the authors.