Bioelectrical or electrophysiological signals generated by living cells or tissues during daily physiological activities are closely related to the state of the body and organ functions, and therefore are widely used in clinical diagnosis, health monitoring, intelligent control and human-computer interaction. Ag/AgCl electrodes with wet conductive gels are widely used to pick up these bioelectrical signals using electrodes and record them in the form of electroencephalograms, electrocardiograms, electromyography, electrooculograms, etc. However, the inconvenience, instability and infection problems resulting from the use of gel with Ag/AgCl wet electrodes can’t meet the needs of long-term signal acquisition, especially in wearable applications. Hence, focus has shifted toward the study of dry electrodes that can work without gels or adhesives. In this paper, a retrospective overview of the development of dry electrodes used for monitoring bioelectrical signals is provided, including the sensing principles, material selection, device preparation, and measurement performance. In addition, the challenges regarding the limitations of materials, fabrication technologies and wearable performance of dry electrodes are discussed. Finally, the development obstacles and application advantages of different dry electrodes are analyzed to make a comparison and reveal research directions for future studies.
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