John A. Rogers

Photo of John A. Rogers
John A. Rogers
  • From:

    Northwestern University │ Evanston, Illinois

  • Year:

    2019

  • Subject:

    Materials Engineering

  • Award:

    Benjamin Franklin Medal

  • Citation:

    For pioneering the engineering of flexible and stretchable electronic systems for e-health and exploratory neuroscience.

With John Rogers’s wearable sensor technology, hospitals will forever be changed. Not only is he nixing the need for bulky medical monitoring electronics that tie patients to their beds, he eliminated sticky chest electrodes and obtrusive fluid ports, and cut the power cord to everything. There’s no other way to put it: The “epidermal electronic systems” (EES) devices developed by his materials lab at Northwestern University are simply mind-blowing. For example, consider Rogers’s neonatal heart monitor. A thin, skin-like membrane just bigger than a postage stamp adheres to a patient using no adhesives whatsoever. Instead, attractive forces between atoms keep it in place, meaning no skin irritation. It requires no power, wirelessly communicates with a smartphone or tablet, and can stretch and compress like skin with no harm to the electronics. The secret behind Rogers’s miniature wearable tech lies in the novel ways he controls the chemistry during manufacturing and application. New technology based on his ideas is now on shelves, like L’Oréal’s battery-free, fingernail-mountable UV-radiation meter, lauded by dermatologists as groundbreaking. But Rogers’s innovations are more than skin deep. His lab is currently developing devices that work inside the body, like brain filaments, battery-free pacemakers, drug-delivery systems that absorb into the body, and other technologies poised to revolutionize the patient experience worldwide.