Stretchable and Tunable Microtectonic ZnO-Based Sensors and Photonics

Philipp Gutruf, Eike Zeller, Sumeet Walia, Hussein Nili, Sharath Sriram, Madhu Bhaskaran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


The concept of realizing electronic applications on elastically stretchable "skins" that conform to irregularly shaped surfaces is revolutionizing fundamental research into mechanics and materials that can enable high performance stretchable devices. The ability to operate electronic devices under various mechanically stressed states can provide a set of unique functionalities that are beyond the capabilities of conventional rigid electronics. Here, a distinctive microtectonic effect enabled oxygen-deficient, nanopatterned zinc oxide (ZnO) thin films on an elastomeric substrate are introduced to realize large area, stretchable, transparent, and ultraportable sensors. The unique surface structures are exploited to create stretchable gas and ultraviolet light sensors, where the functional oxide itself is stretchable, both of which outperform their rigid counterparts under room temperature conditions. Nanoscale ZnO features are embedded in an elastomeric matrix function as tunable diffraction gratings, capable of sensing displacements with nanometre accuracy. These devices and the microtectonic oxide thin film approach show promise in enabling functional, transparent, and wearable electronics. Transparent, stretchable sensing devices are realized by integrating ZnO into an elastomeric platform. The sensors are capable of performing room-temperature gas sensing, UV sensing, and nanometer-accurate strain sensing. Stretchability and enhanced sensitivity are enabled through the introduction of the microtectonic effect and nanopatterning. The sensors are tested at various strain states via in-situ characterization and their performance is benchmarked against rigid counterparts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4532-45839
Number of pages41308
Issue number35
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015


  • UV sensing
  • ZnO
  • gas sensing
  • stretchable electronics
  • stretchable gratings

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biomaterials
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)


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