MAE’s Dr. Yong Zhu and Dr.Brendan O’Connor Look to Produce Next Generation of Electronic Skin

MAE professor Yong Zhu is leading a team who has received 1.3M in funds from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to find new ways of nanomanufacturing stretchable electronics and sensors in large scale. Joining Dr. Zhu on the three-person team are fellow NC State Engineering professors, Dr. Brendan O’Connor from MAE and Dr. Jingyan Dong from Fitts Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering.


Electronic skin or e-skin, as an important system consisting of stretchable electronics and sensors, are blurring the lines between electronics and human skin. Electronic skin has wide ranging applications in autonomous artificial intelligence (e.g. robots), medical diagnostics, and replacement prosthetic devices capable of providing the same, if not better, level of sensory perception than the biological equivalent. For electronic skin to meet these expectations, a large number of distributed tactile sensors that are able to stretch and conform to curvilinear objects are required.


Researchers have been able to use nano-enabled technologies to make electronic skin, but only on a small scale, for example, see Dr. Zhu’s previous work on stretchable conductors and wearable sensors, and Dr. O’Connor’s previous work on stretchable semiconductors. To produce electronic skin on a large scale, new methods of scalable manufacturing and integration of processing systems are needed. This is where the NC State team steps in.

In their project, the team will address these needs and challenges by combining several scalable nanomanufacturing methods. The goal is to achieve high-performance, large-area stretchable systems.

Find detailed information about the team’s research and NSF grant at