Nano-Transistor Assesses Health

The low

The ultra-low power sensor can scan the contents of liquids such as perspiration.
Image: EPFL/Jamani Caillet

Researchers from École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) have developed an ultra-low power sensor to monitor health through the scanning of perspiration.

Director of Nanoelectronic Devices Laboratory (Nanolab) at EPFL, Adrian Ionescu—ECS published author in both the Journal of The Electrochemical Society and ECS Transactions—states that the new sensor can sync to your mobile device to alert you of your hydration, stress, and fatigue levels.

“The ionic equilibrium in a person’s sweat could provide significant information on the state of his health,” says Ionescu. “Our technology detects the presence of elementary charged particles in ultra-small concentrations such as ions and protons, which reflects not only the pH balance of sweat but also more complex hydration of fatigues states. By an adapted functionalization I can also track different kinds of proteins.”

Similar to the transistors used in Intel advanced microprocessors, the new transistor has a sensor that is disturbed when a molecule passes through the microfluidic channel, which makes it possible to analyze the fluid.

But it’s not all about the sensors. The device hosts transistors and circuits that amplify the signals.

This from EPFL:

Due to the size of the transistors – 20 nanometers, which is one hundred to one thousand times smaller than the thickness of a hair – it is possible to place a whole network of sensors on one chip, with each sensor locating a different particle.

Read the full article here.

Additionally, the technology does not require a tremendous amount of energy to function.

“We could feed 10,000 sensors with a single solar cell,” Ionescu asserts.

Other contributing authors to this study include Mathias Wipf, Kristine Bedner, Michael Calame, and Christian Schönenberger—who jointly have a meeting abstract published in the ECS Digital Library.

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