Science

The sensor attached to the skin tracks blood glucose levels through the user’s sweat.

Currently, most diabetics must test their blood glucose levels by performing finger prick blood tests or implanted subdermal sensors. However, a new experimental device may work at some point while simply adhering to the floor of the person’s skin.

Currently in development at Pennsylvania State University, the low-cost sensor is the size of a US quarter and is designed to measure the user’s sweat glucose levels. Although the glucose concentration in sweat is approximately one hundredth of the concentration in the bloodstream, there is a constant correlation between the 2.

The sensor incorporates a foam electrode, composed of laser-induced graphene coated with a nickel / gold alloy. Although graphene can be very strong, chemically safe, and electrically conductive, it is not sensitive to glucose on its own. However, nickel is very sensitive to glucose, which is why it is used inside the electrode. Gold is added to reduce the chance of an allergic response to nickel.

Via capillary motion, the gadget attracts sweat in by way of a small inlet, and carries it right into a microfluidic chamber full of an alkaline resolution. The system retains that resolution from coming into direct contact with the wearer’s physique – this is a vital consideration, attributable to the truth that alkaline options can harm the pores and skin.

Glucose molecules current inside the sweat react with the answer, making a compound that’s channeled into the froth electrode. That compound reacts with the nickel, producing {an electrical} sign. Using both an exterior or a built-in gadget to measure the power of that sign, it is attainable to establish the glucose degree within the sweat, and thus within the bloodstream.

In a check of the technology, the sensor was positioned on a volunteer’s arm utilizing a skin-safe adhesive. Readings have been taken each one and three hours after that they had consumed a meal – proper earlier than these readings, the particular person carried out a short exercise to supply a small quantity of sweat. The sensor indicated that their blood glucose dropped between the 2 readings, reporting levels in keeping with these obtained utilizing a commercially accessible glucose monitor.

“We want to work with physicians and other health care providers to see how we can apply this technology for daily monitoring of a patient,” says the lead scientist, Prof. Huanyu “Larry” Cheng. “This glucose sensor serves as a foundational example to show that we can improve the detection of biomarkers in sweat at extremely low concentrations.”

The analysis is described in a paper that was lately revealed within the journal Biosensors and Bioelectronics. For examples of different wearable sensors that take completely different approaches to measuring glucose levels in sweat, take a look at the units which might be being developed on the University of Texas, the University of Cincinnati, Korea’s Institute for Basic Science, and Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems.

 

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