A research team consisting of different academics at various Brazilian universities has developed a wearable sensor printed on a natural bacteriogenic (originating from bacteria) nanocellulose polymer.
The adherent sensor is an improvement over conventional sensor design, which are traditionally printed on plastic surfaces. It can be utilized as a non-invasive bodily fluid detection device, measuring the components of the wearer's sweat.
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Co-author Rosa de Silva told TechXplore, "Microbial nanocellulose is a 100% natural polymer. It is produced by bacteria from sugar. Its main advantage over plastic is its far better interface with human skin. It's been commercially available for some years for use in wound dressings, among other applications, but it had never before been studied as an electrochemical sensor substrate,"
A principle issue with the plastic derivative wearable sensors is the sweat creating a barrier between the skin and the sensor. While it hinders detection it also increases the likelihood of allergies. Silva says "Nanocellulose is totally breathable, enabling sweat to reach the electrode's active layer."
The sensor is 0.19 inch (0.5 cm) by 0.59 inch (1.5 cm) and as thin as a paper tissue. The biomarkers it can detect include uric acid, lactic acid, glucose, potassium, and sodium. Silva notes that "These elements or substances circulate in the bloodstream and are also detectable in sweat. Therefore, diabetes monitoring is one possible application of the nanocellulose sensor. Another is hormone control in women via detection of the hormone estradiol."
Among these uses, this tiny strip can also be used to detect the buildup of various atmospheric pollutant agents, for example, lead and cadmium, both of which are toxic to humans.
Another co-author Paulo Augusto Raymundo Pereira explains the working mechanism: "The sensor is connected to a potentiostat that makes electrochemical measurements by means of variations in the electric current. The data obtained are transmitted to a computer and converted into standard curves."
The researchers are currently working to make the sensor economically feasible. Also, they are studying the possibility of using these sensors to administer drugs as well.
The research is to be published on Science Direct.