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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‘Smart Skin’ Replicates Sense of Touch

A team has developed a skin that can stretch over the entire prosthesis; and its applications aren't just limited to pressure. It's embedded with ultrathin, single crystalline silicone nanoribbon, which enables an array of sensors.Credit: Kim et al./Nature Communications

The skin is embedded with ultrathin, single crystalline silicone nanoribbon, which enables an array of sensors.
Credit: Kim et al./Nature Communications

We’ve talked about the advancements in prosthetic limbs in the past, but now a group of researchers out of Seoul National University are taking innovation in prosthetics one step further with this new “smart skin.”

Researchers from the Republic of Korea have developed a stretchy synthetic skin embedded with sensors, which will be able to help those with prosthetics regain their sense of touch.

This from “Stretchable silicon nanoribbon electronics for skin prosthesis” in the journal Nature Communications:

This collection of stretchable sensors and actuators facilitate highly localized mechanical and thermal skin-like perception in response to external stimuli, thus providing unique opportunities for emerging classes of prostheses and peripheral nervous system interface technologies.

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Clothes That Monitor, Transmit Biomedical Info

The smart fabric developed is durable, malleable, and can be woven with cotton or wool.Credit: Université Laval/Stepan Gorgusta

The smart fabric developed is durable, malleable, and can be woven with cotton or wool.
Credit: Université Laval/Stepan Gorgusta

We’ve hear about smartphones and “smart cars,” and even such recent developments as the smart highway – but what about a smart textile?

Researchers from Université Laval’s Faculty of Science and Engineering and Centre for Optics, Photonics and Lasers are well on their way to developing clothes that can monitor and transmit biomedical information on wearers.

By using sensor technology and wireless networks, this smart textile will be able to track and transmit this medical information – which has the potential to be extremely beneficial for people suffering from chronic disease, firemen and police offers, and people who are elderly.

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Member Spotlight – Shelley Minteer

ECS's Shelley Minteer has developed a fuel cell that can convert jet fuel to electricity at room temperature without igniting the fuel.Credit: Dan Hixson/University of Utah College of Engineering

ECS’s Shelley Minteer has developed a fuel cell that can convert jet fuel to electricity at room temperature without igniting the fuel.
Credit: Dan Hixson/University of Utah College of Engineering

The Electrochemical Society’s Shelley Minteer and her team of engineers at The University of Utah have developed the first room-temperature fuel cell that uses enzymes to help jet fuel produce electricity without need to ignite the fuel.

The new fuel cells will be able to be used to power portable electronics, off-grid power, and sensors.

The study was published in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Catalysis with Minteer as the senior author.

“The major advance in this research is the ability to use Jet Propellant-8 directly in a fuel cell without having to remove sulfur impurities or operate at very high temperature,” says Minteer. “This work shows that JP-8 and probably others can be used as fuels for low-temperature fuel cells with the right catalysts.”

The standard technique for converting jet fuel to electricity is both difficult, due to the sulfur content, and inefficient, with only 30 percent of the fuel converted to electricity under the best conditions.

This from The University of Utah:

To overcome these constraints, the Utah researchers used JP-8 in an enzymatic fuel cell, which uses JP-8 for fuel and enzymes as catalysts. Enzymes are proteins that can act as catalysts by speeding up chemical reactions. These fuel cells can operate at room temperature and can tolerate sulfur.

Read the full article here.

Minteer is a valued member of ECS and is on the editorial board of the Journal of The Electrochemical Society and ECS Electrochemistry Letters – along with being a past chair of the Physical and Analytical Electrochemistry Division. You can also read her published research in our Digital Library.

Make sure to sign up for our e-Alerts so you don’t miss the newest, cutting-edge research!

This hybrid skate has strain gauges and wires leading from gauges to Wheatstone bridge boards.Credit: Institute of Physics Publishing

This hybrid skate has strain gauges and wires leading from gauges to Wheatstone bridge boards.
Credit: Institute of Physics Publishing

Although there may not be nearly as much physical contact as football or hockey, ice skating has been known to yield very serious injuries to its participants. During jumps, skaters can exert forces of more than six times their body weight. With training sessions consisting of 50 to 100 jumps each, it is easy to see how skating can take a toll on the body.

Now, researchers from Brigham Young University and Ithaca College are using sensor technology in existing blades to help discover how to prevent injury, as well as inform the design of a new and improved skating boot.

This from the Institute of Physics:

The strain gauges are attached directly to the stanchions where the blade connects to the boot, and when the stanchions deform due to the force induced by the ice skater, it causes the strain gauges to deform as well. Once deformed, the electrical resistance of the strain gauge changes—this change is measured by a device called a Wheatstone bridge, and a central control system is used to calculate the overall force that was imparted. The entire measuring device, including a battery, weighs 142 g and fits under the boot space of the blade so that none of the components makes contact with the ice.

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See-through sensors, which have been developed by a team of UW-Madison engineers, should help neural researchers better view brain activity.Credit: Justin Williams' Research Group

See-through sensors, which have been developed by a team of UW-Madison engineers, should help neural researchers better view brain activity.
Credit: Justin Williams’ Research Group

A team of engineers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have developed invisible implantable medical sensor array, which will help neural researchers better view and understand brain activity.

This from the University of Wisconsin-Madison:

Neural researchers study, monitor or stimulate the brain using imaging techniques in conjunction with implantable sensors that allow them to continuously capture and associate fleeting brain signals with the brain activity they can see. However, it’s difficult to see brain activity when there are sensors blocking the view.

Read the full article here.

The development of the see-through sensor will help overcome this major technological hurdle.

“One of the holy grails of neural implant technology is that we’d really like to have an implant device that doesn’t interfere with any of the traditional imagining diagnostics,” says Justin Williams, a professor of biomedical engineering and neurological surgery at UW-Madison. “A traditional implant looks like a square of dots, and you can’t see anything under it. We wanted to make a transparent electronic device.”

The research is published in the October 20 issue of the online journal Nature Communications.

The team developed the sensor using graphene due to its versatility and biocompatibility, thus making the device incredibly flexible and transparent because the electronic circuit elements are only four atoms thick.

Sensor science and technology is growing rapidly in response to an ever-increasing demand for faster, cheaper, smaller, and more sensitive means to monitor the chemical, biological, and physical world around us. Make sure you stay up-to-date with the latest research in this exciting field through our Digital Library.

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