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Keywords:

  • Wearable sensors;
  • Screen-printed electrodes;
  • Textiles;
  • Fabrics;
  • Intelligent clothing;
  • Flexible devices;
  • Body sensor networks;
  • Epidermal monitoring

Abstract

This article reviews recent advances and developments in the field of wearable sensors with emphasis on a subclass of these devices that are able to perform highly-sensitive electrochemical analysis. Recent insights into novel fabrication methodologies and electrochemical techniques have resulted in the demonstration of chemical sensors able to augment conventional physical measurements (i.e. heart rate, EEG, ECG, etc.), thereby providing added dimensions of rich, analytical information to the wearer in a timely manner. Wearable electrochemical sensors have been integrated onto both textile materials and directly on the epidermis for various monitoring applications owing to their unique ability to process chemical analytes in a non-invasive and non-obtrusive fashion. In this manner, multi-analyte detection can easily be performed, in real time, in order to ascertain the overall physiological health of the wearer or to identify potential offenders in their environment. Of profound importance is the development of an understanding of the impact of mechanical strain on textile- and epidermal (tattoo)-based sensors and their failure mechanisms as well as the compatibility of the substrate employed in the fabrication process. We conclude this review with a retrospective outlook of the field and identify potential implications of this new sensing paradigm in the healthcare, fitness, security, and environmental monitoring domains. With continued innovation and detailed attention to core challenges, it is expected that wearable electrochemical sensors will play a pivotal role in the emergent body sensor networks arena.