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
DEC 02, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Digital Platform Watches for a Silent COVID Killer
DEC 02, 2020
Digital Platform Watches for a Silent COVID Killer
 
DEC 08, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
Advancing Genetic Sequencing with Better Computational Tools
DEC 08, 2020
Advancing Genetic Sequencing with Better Computational Tools
The many advances that have propelled the field of genetics forward have taken a tremendous amount of work in different ...
JAN 18, 2021
Cancer
An "E-Nose" Could Help Doctors Diagnose Breast Cancer and Its Subtypes
JAN 18, 2021
An "E-Nose" Could Help Doctors Diagnose Breast Cancer and Its Subtypes
Breast cancer is one of the most well-studied cancers in modern medicine. Diagnostics can already differentiate between ...
FEB 03, 2021
Immunology
Severely Ill COVID-19 Patients may have Longer Immunity Against the Virus
FEB 03, 2021
Severely Ill COVID-19 Patients may have Longer Immunity Against the Virus
Researchers are still studying how long a person can stay immune against COVID-19 following infection. A new study by a ...
FEB 17, 2021
Clinical & Molecular DX
Urine Test Bypasses the Need for Prostate Biopsies
FEB 17, 2021
Urine Test Bypasses the Need for Prostate Biopsies
Researchers have created a urine test for prostate cancer that could make unnecessary biopsies a thing of the past. The ...
MAR 10, 2021
Clinical & Molecular DX
What's Your Type? Skin Microbes Linked to Dermatitis Severity.
MAR 10, 2021
What's Your Type? Skin Microbes Linked to Dermatitis Severity.
Microbiologists have discovered that the types of bacteria on a dermatitis patient’s skin affect the severity of t ...
Loading Comments...