JUN 09, 2020 6:30 AM PDT

The Key to Unlocking Next Generation Wearable Biosensors Is Under the Sea

WRITTEN BY: Tara Fernandez

Wearable biosensors are the latest trend in health and diagnostic technologies — keeping track of everything from our daily steps to highs and lows in insulin levels. As health sensors evolve to become increasingly sensitive and functional, they have to overcome one fundamental sticky problem: staying put.

Designing wearable devices that withstand the rigors of daily life has challenged scientists for decades. Patches need to be comfortable, discreet, and not get in the way of daily activities. On top of that, they must adhere securely to both wet and dry skin and not stick so aggressively that they are painful to remove.

Inspired by suction cups on octopus tentacles, a team of South Korean researchers has made a breakthrough with a graphene-based adhesive biosensor. Led by scientists Changhyun Pang and Changsoon Choi, their report in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces describes a cost-effective, water-resistant, stretchable material that can pick up a variety of biological outputs — heart rates, speech patterns, and wrist motion among others.

When it comes to powerfully sticking to objects underwater, octopus suckers are unbeatable. The adult Pacific octopus has around 300 suckers per tentacle, which can hold at least 35 pounds in weight. On top of that, suckers can smell, taste and are flexible enough to make delicate pinching movements.

The design of the newly-developed biosensor was heavily inspired by the superpowers of cephalopod suckers. The base of the material, made of elastic polyurethane and polyester, is flexible enough for comfortable daily use. To give it sensory properties, the fabric incorporates highly conductive materials including graphene oxide. Finally, after fabrication, tiny "suckers" are etched on their adhesive surface to help them stick to skin.

The team, based at South Korea’s Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology (DGIST), is optimistic that their innovation can be applied not only to personal health monitoring but also for diagnostic medical applications both inside and outside the body.

 


Source: EurekAlert, ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

About the Author
  • Tara Fernandez has a PhD in Cell Biology and has spent over a decade uncovering the molecular basis of diseases ranging from skin cancer to obesity and diabetes. She currently works on developing and marketing disruptive new technologies in the biotechnology industry. Her areas of interest include innovation in molecular diagnostics, cell therapies, and immunology. She actively participates in various science communication and public engagement initiatives to promote STEM in the community.
You May Also Like
JUL 13, 2020
Neuroscience
Can COVID-19 Be Diagnosed by Vocal Patterns?
JUL 13, 2020
Can COVID-19 Be Diagnosed by Vocal Patterns?
Researchers from the Lincoln Laboratory have found early evidence that subtle changes in peoples' voices may indicat ...
AUG 10, 2020
Cancer
A New Prognostic Biomarker for Paclitaxel Sensitivity in Breast Cancer
AUG 10, 2020
A New Prognostic Biomarker for Paclitaxel Sensitivity in Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is one of the deadliest cancers globally. It has been studied extensively with plenty of treatments availa ...
AUG 25, 2020
Cardiology
Doing More with Less: Making the Diagnosis of Heart Damage Easier for Patients
AUG 25, 2020
Doing More with Less: Making the Diagnosis of Heart Damage Easier for Patients
Cardiovascular health can be a tricky thing to diagnose. Sometimes it can be done with simple heart rate and blood press ...
SEP 02, 2020
Cancer
Does Adjuvant Chemotherapy Really Help in a Rare Signet-ring Cell Carcinoma
SEP 02, 2020
Does Adjuvant Chemotherapy Really Help in a Rare Signet-ring Cell Carcinoma
For many rare diseases, there is a lack of a “standard” treatment options. This is more prevalent in diverse ...
OCT 01, 2020
Cardiology
Investigating Inflammation in Coronary Artery Bypass Grafts
OCT 01, 2020
Investigating Inflammation in Coronary Artery Bypass Grafts
The heart is a vital part of the body that can last one hundred years, yet even a small change can cause massive consequ ...
OCT 28, 2020
Cancer
Protecting the Head and Neck from Off Target Radiation
OCT 28, 2020
Protecting the Head and Neck from Off Target Radiation
Radiotherapy alone or with chemotherapy is the go-to treatment for head and neck cancers. Unfortunately, head and neck t ...
Loading Comments...