JUN 05, 2020 11:21 AM PDT

Wearable bio-ink detects and quantifies biological conditions and molecules

A new wearable sensing technology developed by researchers at Tufts University’s School of Engineering is described in the journal Advanced Materials. The biomaterial-based inks that can be screen printed onto textiles have the capability to detect and quantify biological conditions and molecules, and could potentially even identify pathogens. 

This technology could be used to tailor workouts for professional athletes, among many other uses. Photo: Pixabay

"The use of novel bioactive inks with the very common method of screen printing opens up promising opportunities for the mass-production of soft, wearable fabrics with large numbers of sensors that could be applied to detect a range of conditions," said Fiorenzo Omenetto, corresponding author and the Frank C. Doble Professor of Engineering at Tufts' School of Engineering. "The fabrics can end up in uniforms for the workplace, sports clothing, or even on furniture and architectural structures." 

One other use, they say, could be on face masks, where they could provide a map of human chemical responses and exposure. The inks work by changing color in response to chemicals released by the body, such as sweat and other biofluids. Made from biologically activated silk-based inks, this non-electronic, colorimetric approach is different from other wearable device mechanisms in that it can cover a large area and therefore theoretically detect a very large number of analytes. 

"The screen printing approach provides the equivalent of having a large, multiplexed arrangement of sensors covering extensive areas of the body, if worn as a garment, or even on large surfaces such as room interiors," said first author Giusy Matzeu, research assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Tufts School of Engineering. 

"Coupled with image analysis, we can obtain a high-resolution map of color reactions over a large area and gain more insight on the overall physiological or environmental state. In theory, we could extend this method to track air quality, or support environmental monitoring for epidemiology."

This technology has utility beyond that of just collecting physiological data. Laia Mogas-Soldevila, architect and recent Ph.D. graduate at Tufts has used the technique to create interactive tapestries that are exhibited in museums across the United States and Europe."This is really a great example of how art and engineering can gain from and inspire each other," said Mogas-Soldevila. "The engineered inks open up a new dimension in responsive, interactive tapestries and surfaces, while the 1,000-year old art of screen printing has provided a foundation well suited to the need for a modern high resolution, wearable sensing surface."

Sources: Advances Materials, Eureka Alert

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
AUG 22, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
A New Way to Describe Enzyme Kinetics
AUG 22, 2020
A New Way to Describe Enzyme Kinetics
The  Michaelis-Menten equation is classic, but it may not be sufficient to describe all enzymatic reactions, new wo ...
AUG 27, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Pheromone Molecule at the Center of Global Locusts Crisis
AUG 27, 2020
Pheromone Molecule at the Center of Global Locusts Crisis
Since earlier this year, agriculture and food production in the developing world have been taking heavy damages from an ...
OCT 16, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Using AI to map carbon storage in isolated trees
OCT 16, 2020
Using AI to map carbon storage in isolated trees
Mapping over 1.8 billion trees takes time. But with the help of supercomputers and machine learning algorithms, a team o ...
OCT 21, 2020
Technology
Can House Paint Revolutionize Technology?
OCT 21, 2020
Can House Paint Revolutionize Technology?
Can house paint revolutionize technology? Apparently, yes! Researchers discovered that titanium oxide, a component of pa ...
NOV 05, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Researchers describe a new rule for why fish swim in schools
NOV 05, 2020
Researchers describe a new rule for why fish swim in schools
A study published in Nature Communications highlights a new explanation of how fish swim in schools, a technique they us ...
DEC 03, 2020
Neuroscience
Scientists Invent Noninvasive Microscope to Observe Neurons
DEC 03, 2020
Scientists Invent Noninvasive Microscope to Observe Neurons
To obtain high-resolution images of the brain, researchers usually need to reduce the thickness of the skull or cut into ...
Loading Comments...