A Non-Newtonian liquid metal enabled enhanced electrography
Biosensors and Bioelectronics
Biopotential signals, like electrocardiography (ECG), electromyography (EMG), and electroencephalography (EEG), can help diagnose cardiological, musculoskeletal and neurological disorders. Dry silver/silver chloride (Ag/AgCl) electrodes are commonly used to obtain these signals. While a conductive hydrogel can be added to Ag/AgCl electrodes to improve the contact and adhesion between the electrode and the skin, dry electrodes are prone to movement. Considering that the conductive hydrogel dries over time, the use of these electrodes often creates an imbalanced skin-electrode impedance and a number of sensing issues in the front-end analogue circuit. This issue can be extended to several other electrode types that are commonly in use, in particular, for applications with a need for long-term wearable monitoring such as ambulatory epilepsy monitoring. Liquid metal alloys, such as eutectic gallium indium (EGaIn), can address key critical requirements around consistency and reliability but present challenges on low viscosity and the risk of leakage. To solve these problems, here, we demonstrate the use of a non-eutectic Ga–In alloy as a shear-thinning non-Newtonian fluid to offer superior performance to commercial hydrogel electrodes, dry electrodes, and conventional liquid metals for electrography measurements. This material has high viscosity when still and can flow like a liquid metal when sheared, preventing leakage while allowing the effective fabrication of electrodes. Moreover, the Ga–In alloy not only has good biocompatibility but also offers an outstanding skin-electrode interface, allowing for the long-term acquisition of high-quality biosignals. The presented Ga–In alloy is a superior alternative to conventional electrode materials for real-world electrography or bioimpedance measurement.
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Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council