Soft electronic devices and sensors have shown great potential for wearable and ambulatory electrophysiologic signal monitoring applications due to their light weight, ability to conform to human skin, and improved wearing comfort, and they may replace the conventional rigid electrodes and bulky recording devices widely used nowadays in clinical settings. Herein, we report an elastomeric sponge electrode that offers greatly reduced electrode-skin contact impedance, an improved signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), and is ideally suited for long-term and motion-artifact-tolerant recording of high-quality biopotential signals. The sponge electrode utilizes a porous polydimethylsiloxane sponge made from a sacrificial template of sugar cubes, and it is subsequently coated with a poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) polystyrenesulfonate (PEDOT:PSS) conductive polymer using a simple dip-coating process. The sponge electrode contains numerous micropores that greatly increase the skin-electrode contact area and help lower the contact impedance by a factor of 5.25 or 6.7 compared to planar PEDOT:PSS electrodes or gold-standard Ag/AgCl electrodes, respectively. The lowering of contact impedance resulted in high-quality electrocardiogram (ECG) and electromyogram (EMG) recordings with improved SNR. Furthermore, the porous structure also allows the sponge electrode to hold significantly more conductive gel compared to conventional planar electrodes, thereby allowing them to be used for long recording sessions with minimal signal degradation. The conductive gel absorbed into the micropores also serves as a buffer layer to help mitigate motion artifacts, which is crucial for recording on ambulatory patients. Lastly, to demonstrate its feasibility and potential for clinical usage, we have shown that the sponge electrode can be used to monitor uterine contraction activities from a patient in labor. With its low-cost fabrication, softness, and ability to record high SNR biopotential signals, the sponge electrode is a promising platform for long-term wearable health monitoring applications.
- porous elastomer
- porous electrode
- stretchable electronics
- uterine contraction monitoring