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.

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Printable Functional Materials

Potential technical applications of printable functional inks.

The videos and information in this post relate to an ECS Journal of Solid State Science and Technology focus issue called: Printable Functional Materials for Electronics and Energy Applications.

(Read/download the focus issue now. It’s entirely free.)

Printing technologies in an atmospheric environment offer the potential for low-cost and materials-efficient alternatives for manufacturing electronics and energy devices such as luminescent displays, thin-film transistors, sensors, thin-film photovoltaics, fuel cells, capacitors, and batteries. Significant progress has been made in the area of printable functional organic and inorganic materials including conductors, semiconductors, and dielectric and luminescent materials.

These new printable functional materials have and will continue to enable exciting advances in printed electronics and energy devices. Some examples are printed amorphous oxide semiconductors, organic conductors and semiconductors, inorganic semiconductor nanomaterials, silicon, chalcogenide semiconductors, ceramics, metals, intercalation compounds, and carbon-based materials.

A special focus issue of the ECS Journal of Solid State Science and Technology was created about the publication of state-of-the-art efforts that address a variety of approaches to printable functional materials and device. This focus issue, consisting of a total of 15 papers, includes both invited and contributed papers reflecting recent achievements in printable functional materials and devices.

The topics of these papers span several key ECS technical areas, including batteries, sensors, fuel cells, carbon nanostructures and devices, electronic and photonic devices, and display materials, devices, and processing. The overall collection of this focus issue covers an impressive scope from fundamental science and engineering of printing process, ink chemistry and ink conversion processes, printed devices, and characterizations to the future outlook for printable functional materials and devices.

The video below demonstrates Printed Metal Oxide Thin-Film Transistors by J. Gorecki, K. Eyerly, C.-H. Choi, and C.-H. Chang, School of Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering, Oregon State University.

Step-by-step explanation of the video:

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Electrochemistry Tackles Air Quality

Researchers from Cambridge University have developed low-cost pollution detectors to help combat the world’s largest environmental health risk.

“To work out the factors we should be worried about, and how we can intervene, we need to rethink how we measure what’s going on,” said atmospheric scientists Professor Rod Jones.

While pollution detectors do exist, their network is currently limited due to the high cost of the devices. Jones and his team have set out to develop a small, low-cost pollution detector that is sensitive enough to track air changes and quality on a street-by-street basis.

The team based their work on an electrochemical sensor that is industrially safe and can detect toxins at the parts-per-billion level.

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New Type of Graphene Aerogel (Video)

focus-issue-boxLogan Streu, ECS Content Associate & Assistant to the CCO, recently spotted an article out of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory detailing a new type of graphene aerogel that could improve energy storage, sensors, nanoelectronics, catalysis, and separations.

The researchers are creating graphene aerogel microlattics through a 3D printing process known as direct ink wetting.

This from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory:

The 3D printed graphene aerogels have high surface area, excellent electrical conductivity, are lightweight, have mechanical stiffness and exhibit supercompressibility (up to 90 percent compressive strain). In addition, the 3D printed graphene aerogel microlattices show an order of magnitude improvement over bulk graphene materials and much better mass transport.

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Vibrating Vest Allows People to Feel Sound

A novel vibrating vest that will allow deaf people to feel sound is under development at Rice University. The low-cost, non-invasive VEST—Versatile Extra-Sensory Transducer—features dozens of embedded sensors to vibrate varying patterns based on the words spoken.

The VEST works in tandem with a phone or tablet app to isolate speech from ambient sound and allow for easier translation of the vibration patterns.

“We see other applications for what we’re calling tactile sensory substitution,” says Rice University junior Abhipray Sahoo. “Information can be sent through the human body. It’s not just an augmentative device for the deaf. The VEST could be a general neural input device. You could receive any form of information.”


227th ECS Meeting Chicago LogoInterested in how sensor technology could change the world? Make sure to join us at the 227th ECS Meeting in Chicago this May, where we’ll hold symposia dedicated to sensors and their applications in healthcare, the environment, and beyond.

Register online now!

People in remote locations can now detect viruses and bacteria without leaving their homes.Image: Scientific Reports

People in remote locations can now detect viruses and bacteria without leaving their homes.
Image: Scientific Reports

A team of researchers has developed a device that aims to provide adequate and efficient health care to those who live in remote regions with limited access to medical professionals.

The device utilizes biosensing to detected such viruses and bacteria as HIV and Staph from remote locations. Patients simply take a small blood or saliva sample and apply it to a film made of cellulose paper—each of which is designed to detect a specific bacteria or virus.

This from Popular Science:

The patient would then use a smartphone app to take a picture of the sample and send it to a doctor for diagnosis. Medical professionals, no matter where they are, would receive the cell-fies and look at the bacterial biomarkers in the sample to diagnose the disease. The film is sensitive, disposable, and much cheaper to produce than similar biosensing films.

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Call for Papers: JSS Focus Issue

focus_issues_coversThe editors of the ECS Journal of Solid State Science and Technology are calling for papers for the upcoming focus issue: Novel Applications of Luminescent Optical Materials.

Submission Deadline: July 15, 2015

Submit your manuscript today!

The research landscape of luminescent and optical materials is rapidly changing due to a need for such materials outside the lighting and display technologies. Novel materials are needed and are developed with luminescent and optical properties appropriately tuned for applications in solar cells, sensors, bio-imaging, light extraction, and related opto-electronics in addition to solid state lighting and display technologies.

Find out more.

Read previous focus issues in ECS journals.

Sensors Allow Structures to Communicate

The sensors contain innovative distributive mechanisms, which enable online situation awareness and adaptive learning based on artificial intelligence.Image: GENESI

The sensors contain innovative distributive mechanisms, which enable online situation awareness and adaptive learning based on artificial intelligence.
Image: GENESI

If these walls could talk… actually, they can. A new project that goes by the acronym GENESI (Green sEnsor Networks for Structural monItoring) is working to give infrastructure the ability to tell us how it feels.

GENESI researchers are creating various sensor that fit inside buildings, tunnels, and bridges. This novel generation of green wireless sensor networks’ main aim is to allow structures to communicate their status.

The sensor device itself combines a low power node platform with a multi-source energy harvester, a small factor fuel cell, and an energy efficient radio. Each sensor has the ability to monitor vibrating strain, displacement, temperature, and soil moisture.

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