Comment on light-emitting materials for wearable electronics published on Nature Reviews Materials.
Date: 2022-11-04

On Oct 4th, 2022, Prof. Zhitao ZHANG published a Comment Article entitled “Light-emitting materials for wearable electronics” as the corresponding author at the invitation of Nature Reviews Materials. The article systematically discusses the wearable applications of light-emitting materials, the challenges faced at current stage, and future perspectives. This work was supported by the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Zhangjiang Institute for Advanced Study and Institute of Translational Medicine of Shanghai Jiao Tong University.



Next-generation light-emitting displays should be not only flexible and bright but also soft and stretchable. Newly emerging light-emitting materials will enable body-conformable light-emitting devices with potential applications in a variety of fields, including displays, lighting, sensing, imaging, stimulation and therapy.


The combination of multi-functional electronic devices with the human body can lead to a wide variety of applications, ranging from energy generation and sensing to health monitoring and therapy. However, many potential applications are hindered by the lack of interactive human–machine interfaces for real-time information displaying. Traditional light-emitting displays are bulky and rigid and cannot be conformably integrated with the human body. Emerging light-emitting materials have the potential to enable wearable, attachable and implantable devices with reduced mechanical mismatch with the human body, providing stable interfaces even during motion. These body-conformable light-emitting devices can be used for flexible displays but also for optical imaging, neurostimulation and photodynamic therapy.


Next-generation light-emitting materials will need to possess some essential properties. These include high brightness, particularly for applications in displays, lighting and therapy, and high resolution, which is crucial for information delivery and communication, and for high-density optogenetic neurostimulation and neuromodulation. For practical applications, large-area body-conformable displays will be more attractive than current commercial display terminals. To adapt to the shape of the human body and the large deformations caused by motion, light-emitting materials will need to have good mechanical properties, including low Young’s modulus and high mechanical stretchability. Because long-term operation will lead to degradation owing to fatigue, corrosion and damage, the ability to self-heal will also be important. Finally, biocompatibility will be a requirement, especially for implantable applications. Ideally, light-emitting materials would also be biologically resorbable, so that they can be removed from the body without extra surgery.

Current body-conformable light-emitting devices can be roughly divided into three categories: wearable light-emitting textiles, attachable light-emitting skins and implantable light-emitting bio-devices.


This work is supported by the Foundation of National Facility for Translational Medicine (Shanghai).


Link to the article:


Translator: Zhitao ZHANG, Chenyun SUN

Reviser: Zhitao ZHANG, Xiaoke HU


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