Artificial limbs have experience tremendous evolution in their long history. Throughout history, we’ve gone from the peg leg of the Dark Ages to technologically advanced modern day prosthesis that mimic the function of a natural limb. However, most prosthesis still lack a sense of touch.

Zhenan Bao, past ECS member and chemical engineer at Stanford University, is at the forefront of the research looking to change that.

(MORE: Read Bao’s past meeting abstracts in the ECS Digital Library for free.)

Recently on NPR’s All Things Considered, Bao described her work in developing a plastic artificial skin that can essentially do all the things organic skin can do, including sensing and self-healing.


The self-healing plastic Bao uses mimics the electrical properties of silicon and contains a nano-scale pressure sensor. The sensor is then connected to electrical circuits that connect to the brain, transmitting the pressure to the brain to analyze as feeling.

Additionally, the skin is set to be powered by polymers that can turn light into electricity.

While there is still much work to be done, Bao and her colleagues believe that this product could help people who have lost their limbs regain their sense of touch.

Glucose monitoring has had a long history with electrochemical science and technology. While ECS Honorary Member Adam Heller’s continuous glucose monitoring system for diabetes management may be the first innovation that comes to mind, there is a new electrochemical bio-sensing tool on the horizon.

(WATCH: ECS Masters – Adam Heller)

Researchers have combined graphene with a tiny amount of gold to enhance the wonder material’s properties and develop a flexible skin patch to monitor blood glucose and automatically administer drugs as needed.

This from Extreme Tech:

[As] cool as a non-invasive blood-glucose monitor is, it’s nearly as revolutionary as what comes next: treatment. The patch is studded with “microneedles” that automatically cap themselves with a plug of tridecanoic acid. When high blood-glucose levels are detected, the patch heats a small heater on the needles which deforms the plug and allows the release of metformin, a common drug for treatment of type 2 diabetes. Cooling naturally restores the plug and stops drug release.

Read the full article.

This development is a huge stepping stone in the transformation of graphene as a laboratory curiosity to a real product. While it has taken a while due to the questions of the new material’s intrinsic properties, researchers believe that graphene-based products could soon be hitting the market.

Measuring the pH level of a solution is usually a relatively simple process. However, that process begins to get more complicated as things get smaller.

Examining changes in acidity or alkalinity at the nanoscale, for example, has been a nearly impossible feat for researchers. Now, a team from the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw, including 11 year ECS member Gunter Wittstock, has developed a novel method of pH measurement at the nanoscale.

The group has developed a nanosensor with the ability to continuously monitor changes in pH levels.

This from the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw:

Used as a scanning electrochemical microscope probe, it allows for the precise measurement of changes in acidity/alkalinity occurring over very small fragments of the surface of a sample immersed in a solution. The spatial resolution here is just 50 nm, and in the future, it can be reduced even further.

Read the full article.

“The ability to monitor changes in the acidity or alkalinity of solutions at the nanoscale, and thus over areas whose dimensions can be counted in billionths of a meter, is an important step toward better understanding of many chemical processes. The most obvious examples here are various kinds of catalytic reactions or pitting corrosion, which begins on very small fragments of a surface,” said Marcin Opallo, lead author in the study.

The team hopes that this new method could lead to monitoring of pH changes taking place in the vicinity of individual chemical molecules.

Sensor Division Awards

Sensor DivisionECS recognizes outstanding technical achievements in electrochemistry and solid-state science and technology through its Honors & Awards program. There are many deserving members of the Sensor Division among us and this is an opportunity to highlight their contributions.

We are currently accepting nominations for the Sensor Division Outstanding Achievement Award which was established in 1989 to recognize outstanding achievement in research and/or technical contributions to the field of sensors and to encourage work excellence in the field. The award consists of a scroll, and a $1,000 prize. The recipient is required to attend the Society meeting at which the award is given and present a lecture on topics for which the award is made and may receive (if required) some financial assistance to facilitate attendance.

Nomination Deadline: March 1, 2016

Please review the full award criteria before completing the application.

We encourage you to submit a nomination and acknowledge the hard work of your peers!

Sensor-1

Metasensor’s Sensor-1 is a personal security system for your portable goods.

Home security systems are great for protecting valuables inside your home and stopping attempted burglaries, but those systems aren’t very practical when you travel with your precious, portable property.

Metasensor has developed its new Sensor-1, which acts as a portable security system – changing the way we protect our belongings and track objects in general.

This from Popular Science:

Sensor-1 is a small, octagonal disk that contains an accelerometer, a gyroscopic stabilizer, and a magnetometer, which work together to track the orientation of the device it’s attached to in three dimensions. They alert Sensor-1 if the object has been moved, and how. It also has three LED lights, a small siren, and Bluetooth connectivity.

(more…)

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Smart Sweatband Senses Dehydration

It’s not easy to tell if you’re dehydrated. Nearly 75 percent of Americans are chronically dehydrated, putting many people at a health risk.

Now, a smart sweatband could tell you when you exercise is bordering on dangerous. By measuring the chemicals in your sweat, this sensor can alert you of dangerous situations by linking to your smartphone in the first fully integrated electronic system that can provide continuous, noninvasive monitoring of multiple biochemical in perspiration.

The device has the potential to measure more than perspiration, with goals of preforming population-level studies for medical applications.

Car sensor technology

Is your Uber driver going too fast? Soon, you’ll be able to prove it.
Image: Noel Tock under Creative Commons license

Since 2009, Uber has taken off all around the world as the premier ride-sharing company. Now, your Uber experience may improve thanks to the company’s application of sensor technology via each driver’s smartphone.

A typical Uber experience asks the driver and passenger to rate each other after each drive. If the mark comes in unusually low, Uber can now investigate your claims by examining the driver’s journey with data pertaining to speed and erratic driving. The company aims to collect this data from the gyrometer in the driver’s phone and data from GPS and accelerometers.

This from Uber:

Gyrometers in phones can measure small movements, while GPS and accelerometers show how often a vehicle starts and stops, as well as its overall speed. If a rider complains that a driver accelerated too fast and broke too hard, we can review that trip using data. If the feedback is accurate, then we can get in touch with the driver.

Read the full article.

An array of different sensory devices are used in your smartphone, allowing our phones to follow our commands and functions seamlessly. From the sensors in your screen that recognize touch to the voltage and current measurement sensors for battery utilization optimization, sensors are constantly responding to the ever-increasing demand for faster, cheaper, smaller, and more sensitive means to monitor the world around us.

Now these sensor technologies could help produce safer conditions on the road. If gyrometer results show that drivers are moving their phones while driving, Uber may offer mounts. If the accelerators pick up constant speeding conditions, Uber is ready to tell their drivers to curb their enthusiasm.

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Tiny Sensor Powered by Radio Waves

With smart technology on the rise, researchers are looking for ways to develop smaller sensors that can help building the landscape of the internet of things. However, this could potentially demand huge sums of power in an era where people are working hard to conserve energy. A research team from Eindhoven University of Technology may have found a solution to this problem with the development of their new extra-small, wireless sensors that are powered by radio waves that make up its wireless network.

With a router nearby, the tiny sensors can pull the necessary energy to give them functionality. The sensor is just 2 millimeters and can communicate temperatures.

This from Gizmodo:

Aboard the chip, a small antenna captures energy from the signals transmitted by the router. Once it’s charged, the sensor quickly switches on, measures the temperature, and then transmits a small signal for the router to detect. The frequency of the transmitted signal relates to the measured temperature.

Read the full article.

The researchers predict that the primary use for this sensor will be embedding the device within buildings to monitor conditions. Currently priced at 20 cents per sensor, researchers hope that with continued research, its potential could increase to detecting movement, light, and humidity.

The major issue right now lies in the fact that the sensor can only transmit its signal 2.5 centimeters. While the device is currently not practical, the team believes that its reach can grow to 16 feet with more research.

[Image: Eindhoven University of Technology]

Building a Biosensor from Bubblegum

What does Doublemint gum have to do with biomedical research? Apparently, a lot more than would be expected.

A combined research effort from the University of Manitoba and the Manitoba Children’s Hospital has recently created a stretchy, highly sensitive biosensor using chewed gum and carbon nanotubes.

After the gum in chewed for about 30 minutes, it is then cleaned with ethanol and laced with carbon nanotubes. The biosensor has the potential to monitor berating patterns and blood flow.

Even more impressive, the cost for the sensor come in under $3. Researchers believe the cheap, highly flexible biosensor could aid in a multitude of health care applications.

PS: Working in sensor science and technology? Make sure to check out our sensor symposia at the 229th ECS Meeting! Submit your abstract today!

Ingestible Sensor to Improved Diagnostics

Researchers from MIT have unveiled new opportunities in diagnostics through the development of an ingestible sensor with the ability to continuously monitor vital signs. The device, which measures heart rate and breathing from within the gastrointestinal track, has the potential to offer beneficial assessment of trauma patients, soldiers in battle, and those with chronic illness.


“Through characterization of the acoustic wave, recorded from different parts of the GI tract, we found that we could measure both heart rate and respiratory rate with good accuracy,” says Giovanni Traverso, one of the lead authors of the study.

The development of pulse sensors such as this are beginning to outpace the traditional stethoscope. However, the pulse sensors that currently exist wrest on the patient’s skin, which is problematic for those with skin sensitivity such as burn victims.

(more…)

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