Engineers have developed a flexible sensor “skin” that can stretch over any part of a robot’s body or prosthetic to accurately convey information about shear forces and vibration—information critical to grasping and manipulating objects.

If a robot sets out to disable a roadside bomb—or delicately handle an egg while cooking you an omelet—it needs to be able to sense when objects are slipping out of its grasp. Yet, to date, it’s been difficult or impossible for most robotic and prosthetic hands to accurately sense the vibrations and shear forces that occur, for example, when a finger is sliding along a tabletop or when an object begins to fall.

To solve that issue, the bio-inspired robot sensor skin mimics the way a human finger experiences tension and compression as it slides along a surface or distinguishes among different textures. It measures this tactile information with similar precision and sensitivity as human skin, and could vastly improve the ability of robots to perform everything from surgical and industrial procedures to cleaning a kitchen.

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GrapheneResearchers are shedding new light on cell biology with the development of a graphene sensor to monitor changes in the mitochondria.

The one-atom-thin layer of carbon sensor is giving researchers a new outlook into the process known as programmed cell death in mitochondria. The mitochondrion, which is found in most cells, has been known as the powerhouse of the cell due to its ability to metabolize and create energy for cells. However, the new researcher out of University of California, Irving shows that that convention wisdom on how cells create energy is only half right.

This from UC Irving:

[Peter] Burke and his colleagues tethered about 10,000 purified mitochondria, separated from their cells, to a graphene sensor via antibodies capable of recognizing a protein in their outer membranes. The graphene’s qualities allowed it to function as a dual-mode sensor; its exceptional electrical sensitivity let researchers gauge fluctuations in the acidity levels surrounding the mitochondria, while its optical transparency enabled the use of fluorescent dyes for the staining and visualization of voltage across the inner mitochondrial membranes.

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Enzyme-based sensors detect lactate levels in sweat

Sweat Sensor

Image: Sergio Omar Garcia

It may be clammy and inconvenient, but human sweat has at least one positive characteristic – it can give insight to what’s happening inside your body. A new study published in the ECS Journal of Solid State Science and Technology aims to take advantage of sweat’s trove of medical information through the development of a sustainable, wearable sensor to detect lactate levels in your perspiration.

“When the human body undergoes strenuous exercise, there’s a point at which aerobic muscle function becomes anaerobic muscle function,” says Jenny Ulyanova, CFD Research Corporation (CFDRC) researcher and co-author of the paper. “At that point, lactate is produce at a faster rate than it is being consumed. When that happens, knowing what those levels are can be an indicator of potentially problematic conditions like muscle fatigue, stress, and dehydration.”

Utilizing green technology

Using sweat to track changes in the body is not a new concept. While there have been many developments in recent years to sense changes in the concentrations of the components of sweat, no purely biological green technology has been used for these devices. The team of CFDRC researchers, in collaboration with the University of New Mexico, developed an enzyme-based sensor powered by a biofuel cell – providing a safe, renewable power source.

Biofuel cells have become a promising technology in the field of energy storage, but still face many issues related to short active lifetimes, low power densities, and low efficiency levels. However, they have several attractive points, including their ability to use renewable fuels like glucose and implement affordable, renewable catalysts.

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Image: Assianir

Image: Assianir

A recent pistachio recall is bringing Salmonella and other foodborne illnesses back into the national spotlight. The popularity of the in-shell pistachio brands recalled paired with the long shelf-life of the nut has health experts concerned for the potential of the foodborne illness to spread rapidly. Many are again asking: how can we better control food safety?

Shin Horikawa and his team at Auburn University believe their novel biosensor technology could resolve many of the current issues surrounding the spread of foodborne illnesses. As the principal scientist for a concept hand-picked for the FDA’s Food Safety Challenge, Horikawa is looking to make pathogen detection faster, more specific, and cheaper.

Faster, cheaper, smarter

“The current technology to detect Salmonella takes a really long time, from a few days to weeks. Our first priority is to shorten this detection time. That’s why we came up with a biosensor-based detection method,” Horikawa, Postdoctoral researcher at Auburn University and member of ECS, says.

Horikawa and his team’s concept revolves around the placement of a tiny biosensor—a sensor so small that it’s nearly invisible to the human eye—on the surface of fresh fruits and vegetables to detect the presence of pathogenic organisms such as Salmonella. This on-site, robust detection method utilizes magnetoelastic (ME) materials that can change their shape when a magnetic field is applied. The materials respond differently to each magnetic field, changing their shapes accordingly. This allows the researchers to detect if a specific pathogen—such as Salmonella—has attached to the biosensor.

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Super-Sensor Spots Cancer Markers

Logan Streu, ECS Content Associate & Assistant to the CCO, recently came across this article detailing an electrochemical device’s life saving potential in cancer treatment.

A new electrochemical sensor is paving the way for quick and affordable “liquid biopsies,” opening the possibility of detecting deadly cancer markers in minutes. This new development could help tailor treatments to specific patients and improve the accuracy of initial diagnosis.

Personalized medicine is a huge part of a new, promising future in cancer treatment. With the ability to tailor treatment to each individual tumor, treatments can become more effective and yield less side-effects.

In an effort to get closer to the ultimate goal of tailored cancer treatment, Shana Kelley and her team at the University of Toronto joined forces with a researcher from the Montreal Children’s Hospital in Quebec to develop the new electrochemical super-sensor.

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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.”

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jss-sensorWith U.S. healthcare costs of juvenile diabetes approaching $14.9 billion annually due to the upwards of 3 million Americans affected by this type of diabetes, researchers and scientist are looking for more affordable and effective ways to diagnose and treat. Now, researchers from Oregon State University believe they have found that answer.

A paper recently published in ECS Journal of Solid State Science and Technology (JSS) entitled, “Fabrication of a Flexible Amperometric Glucose Sensor Using Additive Processes”, details a novel development in sensor technology to create an improved type of glucose sensor for those with juvenile diabetes. The researchers state that this new technology cold provide a more cost effective and comfortable sensor with better efficiency.

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The headset, worn mounted on carrier frames just above or in front of the eyes, houses a high-definition camera, OLED screens, and multiple supporting technologies used to capture and display a real-time video-feed.

The headset, worn mounted on carrier frames just above or in front of the eyes, houses a high-definition camera, OLED screens, and multiple supporting technologies used to capture and display a real-time video-feed.

Visual impairments and blindness affect millions of people globally. According to the World Health Organization, 39 million people are blind and 246 million have low visions, globally. Now, a company by the name of eSight is stepping into the game to assist in restoring eyesight to the legally blind through a new feat of engineering.

According to the company, the glasses can adapt to any situation and maintain peripheral sight. While the company knew their goal, the engineering challenge was to electronically optimize the minimal useable vision that exists in people with low vision so they can more fully participate in everyday life.

This from Tech Times:

The devices use a prescription lens frame, holding a headset. A hand controller is used to adapt a live video stream, optimizing an LED display, placed directly in front of the eyes of a user. These controls permit the operator to adjust contrast, brightness, and color of the image, in order to provide better vision.

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Nanosensor to Detect Extraterrestrial Life

The EPFL scientists successfully tested their novel system with isolated bacteria, yeast, mouse and human cells.Credit:

The EPFL scientists successfully tested their novel system with isolated bacteria, yeast, mouse and human cells.
Credit: École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

Could nanotechnology be the key to discovering extraterrestrial life? The scientists at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) believe so.

A team at EPFL made up of Giovanni Dietler, Sandor Kasa and Giovanni Longo has developed an extremely sensitive nanosensor that can detect organisms as small as bacteria, yeast, and even cancer cells.

The scientits believe that this is a novel innovation that can be applied to the search for extraterrestrial life. Prior to this development, finding life on other plants has been dependent on chemical detection. The researchers have veered away from this idea and have decided to depend on detecting motion, seeing as it is a trait of life.

The nanosensor uses a nano-sized cantilever to detect motion. A cantilever – or simply a beam that is anchored only at one end, with the other end bearing a load – is typically used in the design of bridges and buildings, but this application takes the very same idea and implements it on a micrometer scale.

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Sensors Meet Sports: The ‘Smart’ Helmet

A UW senior medical engineer explains how the smart helmet can aid to player safety by using sensor technology.Credit: Andy Manis/Journal Sentinel

A UW senior medical engineer explains how the smart helmet can aid in player safety by using sensor technology.
Credit: Andy Manis/Journal Sentinel

Students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are not just interested in improving technology and creating innovative design, but rather they are determined to make us rethink the way the physical and digital world interact.

These students have spent months in the University’s Internet of Things Lab, where they work to measure, monitor and control the physical world by heightening its interaction with the Internet.

The main innovation that the lab has developed is a football helmet that can detect injuries.

Cross-disciplinary teams of students have come together to develop a high-tech football helmet that has brain wave probes and a device that measures acceleration forces, which gives the ability to detect concussions on the field and directly communicate the information to medical staff.

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