Sweat-analyzing skin patch could replace blood sampling
Nobody likes having blood samples drawn. What’s more, such samples typically have to be analyzed in a lab before they’re able to tell us anything. But now scientists at the University of Cincinnati and the US Air Force Research Laboratory are developing a system in which a Band-Aid-like skin patch is able to gather and transmit medical data in almost real time, by analyzing the patient’s sweat … and you just need a smartphone to read it, no poking or prodding required.
Developed by a team led by U Cincinnati’s Prof. Jason Heikenfeld, the flexible adhesive patch contains an electronic circuit, communications antenna, controller chip, and a microfluidic paper-based sweat-sampling system. That paper wicks minute amounts of sweat from the skin in a tree root-shaped pattern, in order to maximize the sampling area.
In order to keep the sweat flowing through the paper for a sustained period of time (instead of just initially saturating it), a superabsorbent hydrogel is also incorporated into the patch, to draw in and store the sampled perspiration – even after several hours of collecting sweat, that gel reportedly only swells by 2 to 3 millimeters.
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