Ultrathin Trilayer Assemblies as Long-Lived Barriers against Water and Ion Penetration in Flexible Bioelectronic Systems

Enming Song, Rui Li, Xin Jin, Haina Du, Yuming Huang, Jize Zhang, Yu Xia, Hui Fang, Yoon Kyeung Lee, Ki Jun Yu, Jan Kai Chang, Yongfeng Mei, Muhammad A. Alam, Yonggang Huang, John A. Rogers*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Biomedical implants that incorporate active electronics and offer the ability to operate in a safe, stable fashion for long periods of time must incorporate defect-free layers as barriers to biofluid penetration. This paper reports an engineered material approach to this challenge that combines ultrathin, physically transferred films of silicon dioxide (t-SiO2) thermally grown on silicon wafers, with layers of hafnium oxide (HfO2) formed by atomic layer deposition and coatings of parylene (Parylene C) created by chemical vapor deposition, as a dual-sided encapsulation structure for flexible bioelectronic systems. Accelerated aging tests on passive/active components in platforms that incorporate active, silicon-based transistors suggest that this trilayer construct can serve as a robust, long-lived, defect-free barrier to phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) solution at a physiological pH of 7.4. Reactive diffusion modeling and systematic immersion experiments highlight fundamental aspects of water diffusion and hydrolysis behaviors, with results that suggest lifetimes of many decades at physiological conditions. A combination of ion-diffusion tests under continuous electrical bias, measurements of elemental concentration profiles, and temperature-dependent simulations reveals that this encapsulation strategy can also block transport of ions that would otherwise degrade the performance of the underlying electronics. These findings suggest broad utility of this trilayer assembly as a reliable encapsulation strategy for the most demanding applications in chronic biomedical implants and high-performance flexible bioelectronic systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10317-10326
Number of pages10
JournalACS nano
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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