Researchers developed a low-cost sensor from semiconducting plastic that could monitor health conditions, according to a study published on June 22, 2018.
This research was conducted by the researchers at the University of Cambridge. This new sensor was capable of measuring the amount of critical metabolites that are found in sweat, tears, saliva or blood. Also, when the sensor is incorporated into a diagnostic device, it allows quick, cheap, and accurate monitoring of health conditions. This device has a very simple design when compared to other sensors. The results of the study were reported in the journal Science Advances.
A newly-synthesized polymer, which was developed at the Imperial College was used by the researchers to develop the sensor. It acts as a molecular wire and directly accepts the electrons that are produced during electrochemical reactions. On coming in contact with a liquid such as sweat or blood, the material absorbs ions and swells, merging with the liquid. This process led to the formation of highly sensitive sensors when compared to the conventional sensors that were made from metal electrodes.
Although the sensors were initially used to measure lactate levels, it can also be modified to detect other metabolites such as glucose or cholesterol by incorporating the appropriate enzyme. Dr. Anna-Maria Pappa, lead author of the study said, “This is the first time that it’s been possible to use an electron accepting polymer that can be tailored to improve communication with the enzymes, which allows for the direct detection of a metabolite. It opens up new directions in biosensing, where materials can be designed to interact with a specific metabolite, resulting in far more sensitive and selective sensors.” The researchers are now planning to develop sensors that can monitor the metabolic activity of human cells in real time outside the body.