Scientists develop stretchy biosensors using carbon nanotube-laced chewing gum

Scientists Develop Stretchy Biosensor Using Chewing Gum-1

Today’s biomedical sensors come in a variety of shapes and forms, including temporary tattoos that can measure the wearer’s blood glucose level, innovative 3D-printed electronic Jell-O and even tiny edible electronic pills that are in turn powered by our own stomach acids. As part of a recent project, scientists have developed yet another ingestible medical device: the chewing gum! More impressive perhaps is the fact that it can accurately track a range of physiological processes, such as breathing, and other body movements.

Published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, the research outlines the technique used by the scientists to transform a rather useless piece of chewing gum into a highly sensitive and specialized biosensor. To start off, the team had one of its members chew a stick of Doublemint gum for nearly 30 minutes. As a result, the gum actually doubled in size, and became significantly stretchier. Following that, the researchers cleaned the chewed gum by soaking it in ethanol.

Tiny, flexible pieces of carbon nanotubes were then embedded into the gum, thus turning it into a sensor capable of conducting electricity. According to the scientists, the newly-developed sensor can be programmed into monitoring body movements, such as the flow of blood through the capillaries as well as the rise and fall of one’s chest during breathing. A specially-designed monitoring device will be able to interpret the data gathered by this tiny contraption.

Compared to the currently-available bulky medical sensors, the nanotube-based gum is capable of twisting and bending inside the patient’s body, without losing any of its efficacy. This makes it much more durable and efficient than the conventional varieties. What is more, it can even measure the humidity level in a person’s breath; a feat that could allow scientists and doctors to closely examine patients’ breathing. According to Malcolm Xing, a professor of engineering and a member of the research team, these tiny sensors can be manufactured at a very low price of $3 each.

Via: Popular Science

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