Semiconducting Plastic Sensors to Monitor Health Conditions

A team of researchers has developed a sensor from semiconducting plastic to be used in monitoring health conditions such as surgical complications. The sensors are able to measure a number of metabolites such as glucose or lactates present in sweat, tears, blood, and saliva when introduced in a diagnostic device. It could be the quick, easiest, and cheap way to monitor accurately. Being made from semiconducting plastic, they are cost-effective.

This device is developed by a team in the University of Cambridge and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) at Saudi Arabia new device has a simple design, but able to monitor a wide range of health conditions. Semiconducting plastics are mostly used in solar cells and flexible electronics, but this is the first time that it is being used in biological applications.

Dr. Anna-Maria Pappa, lead author of the study and a postdoctoral researcher at Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology department at Cambridge University said, researchers have overcome many limitations of the semiconducting plastic and electrochemical biosensors or enzymes as a sensing material.

The conventional biosensors communicate between sensors electrode and sensing material is not fast and efficient, to boost signals, the molecular wire is added to it. The researchers have added a newly synthesized and polymer-based molecular wire that accepted electrons produced during electrochemical reactions. These wires increased sensitivity than traditional sensors of the metal electrode.

Additionally, sensors are assembled in complex circuits such as transistors. This signal of tiny devices can be amplified and tiny fluctuations in metabolites. The researchers are planning to develop sensors to monitor activities in real time. The Bioelectronic Systems and Technologies group is focused to develop a model to mimic organs that can be accessed in real-time.