Most of us don’t stop to think about it, but the skin on our body is pretty remarkable. The largest organ in the body can detect pressure, temperature changes, pain, and touch, all made possible thanks to the many nerves and receptors underneath our skin. With all that said, it’s easy to understand why it’s hard to duplicate this unique organ. But, according to ScienceDaily, researchers are working to do just that. Their goal is to reproduce and transfer these qualities into a manmade electronic skin technology that can be used in prosthetic devices, wearable health monitors, robotics, and virtual reality. (more…)
Deadline Extended: March 19, 2018
The “Semiconductor-Based Sensors for Application to Vapors, Chemicals, Biological Species, and Medical Diagnosis” focus issue of the ECS Journal of Solid State Science and Technology aims to cover various active or passive semiconductor devices for gas, chemical, bio and medical detection, with the focus on silicon, GaN, dichalcogenides/oxides, graphene, and other semiconductor materials for electronic or photonic devices.
The scope of contributed articles includes materials preparation, growth, processing, devices, chemistry, physics, theory, and applications for the semiconductor sensors. Different methodologies, principles, designs, models, fabrication techniques, and characterization are all included. Integrated systems combine semiconductor sensors, electric circuit, microfluidic channels, display, and control unit for real applications such as disease diagnostic or environmental monitoring are also welcome.
A team of researchers from National Tsing Hua University and National Cheng Kung University, both in Taiwan, has developed a low-cost, portable medical sensor package that has the potential to alert users of medical issues ranging from severe heart conditions to cancer, according to a new study published in the ECS Journal of Solid State Science and Technology.
Portable medical devices have become an integral part of holistic health care, exhibiting huge potential in monitoring, medical therapeutics, diagnosis, and fitness and wellness. When paired with benchtop point-of-care instruments used in hospitals and urgent care centers, individuals are able to both increase preventative care measures and gain a more complete picture of their health.
According to the open access paper, “Field-Effect Transistor-Based Biosensors and a Portable Device for Personal Healthcare” (ECS J. Solid State Sci. Technol., 6, Q71 ), researchers have reported the design, development, fabrication, and prototyping of a low-cost transistor-based device that can measure the C-reactive protein (CRP) in bloodstreams, which, when elevated, indicates inflammation that could be linked to heart attack, stroke, coronary artery disease, and a host of other medical diagnosis.
Engineers used tissue paper—similar to toilet tissue—to make a new kind of wearable sensor that can detect a pulse or a blink of an eye.
The sensor, which is light, flexible, and inexpensive, could be used for health care, entertainment, and robotics, researchers say.
Tearing tissue paper that’s loaded with nanocomposites and breaking the paper’s fibers makes the paper acts like a sensor. It can detect a heartbeat, finger force, finger movement, eyeball movement, and more, says Jae-Hyun Chung, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Washington and senior author of the paper in Advanced Materials Technologies.
“The major innovation is a disposable wearable sensor made with cheap tissue paper. When we break the specimen, it will work as a sensor.”
A new chemical sensor prototype will be able to detect “single-fingerprint quantities” of chemicals and other substances at a distance of more than 100 feet—and its creators are working to make it the size of a shoebox.
The device could potentially identify traces of drugs and explosives, as well as speed up the analysis of certain medical samples. A portable infrared chemical sensor could be mounted on a drone or carried by users such as doctors, police, border officials, and soldiers.
The device’s sensor is made possible by a new optical-fiber-based laser that combines high power with a beam that covers a broad band of infrared frequencies—from 1.6 to 12 microns, which covers the so-called mid-wave and long-wave infrared.
“Most chemicals have fingerprint signatures between about 2 and 11 microns,” says researcher Mohammed Islam, who developed the laser. “Hence, this wavelength range is called the ‘spectral fingerprint region.’ So our device enables identification of solid, liquid, and gas targets based on their chemical signature.”
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.
Researchers 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.
Enzyme-based sensors detect lactate levels in sweat
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.
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.
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.