Performance Evaluation of a Wearable Tattoo Electrode Suitable for High-Resolution Surface Electromyogram Recording

Sourav Chandra, Jinghua Li, Babak Afsharipour, Andres F. Cardona, Nina L. Suresh, Limei Tian, Yujun Deng, Yishan Zhong, Zhaoqian Xie, Haixu Shen, Yonggang Huang, John A. Rogers, William Z. Rymer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Objective: High-density surface electromyography (HD-sEMG) has been utilized extensively in neuromuscular research. Despite its potential advantages, limitations in electrode design have largely prevented widespread acceptance of the technology. Commercial electrodes have limited spatial fidelity, because of a lack of sharpness of the signal, and variable signal stability. We demonstrate here a novel tattoo electrode that addresses these issues. Our dry HD electrode grid exhibits remarkable deformability which ensures superior conformity with the skin surface, while faithfully recording signals during different levels of muscle contraction. Method: We fabricated a 4 cm×3 cm tattoo HD electrode grid on a stretchable electronics membrane for sEMG applications. The grid was placed on the skin overlying the biceps brachii of healthy subjects, and was used to record signals for several hours while tracking different isometric contractions. Results: The sEMG signals were recorded successfully from all 64 electrodes across the grid. These electrodes were able to faithfully record sEMG signals during repeated contractions while maintaining a stable baseline at rest. During voluntary contractions, broad EMG frequency content was preserved, with accurate reproduction of the EMG spectrum across the full signal bandwidth. Conclusion: The tattoo grid electrode can potentially be used for recording high-density sEMG from skin overlying major limb muscles. Layout programmability, good signal quality, excellent baseline stability, and easy wearability make this electrode a potentially valuable component of future HD electrode grid applications. Significance: The tattoo electrode can facilitate high fidelity recording in clinical applications such as tracking the evolution and time-course of challenging neuromuscular degenerative disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9234075
Pages (from-to)1389-1398
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • HD-sEMG
  • stretchable electronics
  • tattoo electrode
  • wearable electrode

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering


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