JUN 01, 2016 2:52 PM PDT

Printed Paper Sensor Could Prevent Sun Overexposure

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham
Could this paper-based sensor reduce incidence of skin cancer?
We all know the dangers of staying out in the sun too long without protection. But short of getting the telltale sunburn, how do we know exactly when to seek shade or reapply sunscreen? A new study may have the answer: a paper-based sensor that will alert wearers to avoid overexposure of the sun’s rays.
 
The paper sensor is arguably ingenious precisely in its simplicity. It’s made with titanium dioxide, polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP), and food dye on paper. Titanium dioxide is a photocatalyst, reacting with sun’s exposure to degrade the color of the blue food dye. As the color changes wearers will have a visual cue alerting them of when they’ve been out in the sun for too long. And according to the team, the PVP serves as a binder to allow film formation.
 
"Most currently available UV sensors require high-tech gadgets to operate, such as smartphones or wearable devices," the researchers said in a press release. "Recently, single-use, disposable sunburn sensors have come onto the market. However, some of these sensors use substances that are potentially harmful to people or the environment."
 
By contrast, the paper sensor uses non-toxic and inexpensive compounds that are also biocompatible. Furthermore, the three ingredients are loaded into a standard inkjet cartridge and printed with an uncomplicated, off-the-shelf printer. This ease of manufacture and low costs makes the “device” disposable and amenable for mass production.
 
Moreover, the team says their invention is also customizable, taking into account a person’s skin tone and level of sun protection factor in a person’s sunscreen. This was accomplished with ultraviolet neutral density filters that modulate the time it takes to degrade the food dye.
 
Skin cancer caused by sun damage remains one of the biggest health risks worldwide. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, Americans have a 20 percent risk of developing skin cancer in the course of their lifetime. And even when we are aware of the dangers and use sunscreen protection, we may not always know to apply the appropriate amount of sunscreen for the exposure.
 
This easy paper sensor seems like an ideal practical solution to sun-exposed people everywhere. And though the study is a proof-of-concept study and has not been tested in clinical trials yet, it’s not hard to imagine the benefits this new device could have in decreasing skin cancer incidence and health care burden associated with skin cancer. 

Additional Source: American Chemical Society press release
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
AUG 23, 2019
Clinical & Molecular DX
AUG 23, 2019
Are Anti-Ebola Drugs Effective?
A deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) caused by the Ebola virus triggers hemorrhagic fever in humans and some monkeys. The disease is highly infectious and is...
SEP 18, 2019
Health & Medicine
SEP 18, 2019
Honey As An Antibacterial Against Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus
Honey has been used for its medicinal properties for thousands of years to treat wound infections, gastrointestinal ailments, and burns. Because of th...
OCT 07, 2019
Clinical & Molecular DX
OCT 07, 2019
The Three Common Herbs Combating High Blood Pressure: Molecular Mechanism Revealed
Hypertension is also known as high blood pressure is a serious condition. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 of...
NOV 14, 2019
Chemistry & Physics
NOV 14, 2019
Examining the Squirrelly Ones: Wearable MEG Scanner that Suits Pediatric Patients
In a recent study, a joint research team at the University of Nottingham, University of Oxford, and University College London successfully tested a ne...
JAN 21, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
JAN 21, 2020
Brain scans of teens predict their risk of binge drinking
We’ve seen teenage binge drinking widely represented in popular culture. There is, however, a dark side to what many consider harmless fun. Mounting...
JAN 22, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
JAN 22, 2020
Biosignatures detect TB infections months before symptoms appear
What if there was a test that could detect tuberculosis six months before symptoms appear? Researchers at the University of College London think a predicti...
Loading Comments...