Pencil-paper on-skin electronics

Yadong Xu, Ganggang Zhao, Liang Zhu, Qihui Fe, Zhe Zhang, Zanyu Chen, Fufei An, Yangyang Chen, Yun Ling, Peijun Guo, Shinghua Ding, Guoliang Huang, Pai Yen Chen, Qing Cao, Zheng Yan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Pencils and papers are ubiquitous in our society and have been widely used for writing and drawing, because they are easy to use, low-cost, widely accessible, and disposable. However, their applications in emerging skin-interfaced health monitoring and interventions are still not well explored. Herein, we report a variety of pencil-paper-based on-skin electronic devices, including biophysical (temperature, biopotential) sensors, sweat biochemical (pH, uric acid, glucose) sensors, thermal stimulators, and humidity energy harvesters. Among these devices, pencil-drawn graphite patterns (or combined with other compounds) serve as conductive traces and sensing electrodes, and office-copy papers work as flexible supporting substrates. The enabled devices can perform real-time, continuous, and high-fidelity monitoring of a range of vital biophysical and biochemical signals from human bodies, including skin temperatures, electrocardiograms, electromyograms, alpha, beta, and theta rhythms, instantaneous heart rates, respiratory rates, and sweat pH, uric acid, and glucose, as well as deliver programmed thermal stimulations. Notably, the qualities of recorded signals are comparable to those measured with conventional methods. Moreover, humidity energy harvesters are prepared by creating a gradient distribution of oxygen-containing groups on office-copy papers between pencildrawn electrodes. One single-unit device (0.87 cm2) can generate a sustained voltage of up to 480 mV for over 2 h from ambient humidity. Furthermore, a self-powered on-skin iontophoretic transdermal drug-delivery system is developed as an on-skin chemical intervention example. In addition, pencil-paper-based antennas, two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) circuits with light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and batteries, reconfigurable assembly and biodegradable electronics (based on water-soluble papers) are explored.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18292-18301
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number31
StatePublished - Aug 4 2020


  • Biochemical
  • Biophysical
  • Energy harvester
  • On-skin electronics
  • Pencil-paper

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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