July 30, 2021
In recent years, the use of wearable sensor devices has become a part of everyone's daily life. For example, devices such as smart bracelets can be used to monitor the body's movement and fitness effects, such as heart rate, sleep quality and fitness exercises.
But technological developments have opened up a lot of possibilities for monitoring the physical and mental health of patients. Sensors can now be applied to wearable or portable devices to accurately measure key health indicators in the blood night, such as metabolic substances, O2 or the level of healing drugs. This gives patients a simple way to perform continuous, less invasive, instant tests at home for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes. Having that kind of system software would greatly jeopardize patient and provider requirements, thereby reducing the need for frequent hospital visits and incentivizing compliance with medical treatment.
One such sensing device is designed to respond to small shifts in body pressure, allowing for more sensitive and continuous detection of physical effects such as pulse rate, blood pressure values, respiratory rate, and even small shifts in vocal cord polyp vibration in a high aspect ratio. The pressure-sensitive device is made into an adhesive tape and subsequently added to the skin at a single pulse point on the wrist or head and neck. The precise measurement of this physics can be as simple as applying the sensor to the skin and then submitting the collected data information for remote connection by the physician.
The pressure-sensitive device should be made of a material that has excellent ductility and physical properties. The material should also be compatible with the skin surface and conform very well to the skin surface. Over the past decade, a variety of natural and composite materials have been tested, but their physical properties have not been found to be the best.
The different types of gel-like raw materials, called hydrogels, give exceptional process performance for pressure-sensitive devices, but present a number of challenges: water evaporation, lack of structure and lack of scale, and economic development of efficient manufacturing methods.
A collaborative team consisting of an elite team from Terasaki's Biomedical Engineering Innovation Laboratory has already devised solutions to the challenges that occur when building wearable pressure-sensitive sensors. The team selected a hydrogel based on pectin because of its excellent malleability, skin compatibility and low cost. It also gives a way to adjust its malleability, constructional properties and working pressure sensitivity by changing its production method and concentration values of its components. These hydrogels have the added benefit of being light-transmissive when dry and solid, making them attractive as wearable microbial sensors.
The elite team conducted general experiments to raise the bar on what was needed to make a hydrogel with the desired properties. They then assembled it together with fully transparent electrical device components into a completely transparent strip, including the hydrogel layer embedded in it.
"The development we have obtained at the hydrogel sensor level allows everyone to succeed in getting rid of the challenges generated by previous diligence," said Dr. Seiming Zhang, a doctoral student who is part of the elite team of scientific research at Terasaki Research Laboratory."" This will enhance the application of pressure-sensitive devices in many likely diagnostic and therapeutic applications, which include not only the continuous detection of blood pressure values, pulse rate and heartbeat counts, but also the precise measurement of vocal fold polyp vibrations and their early detection of rattling and swallowing difficulties."
To improve the overall durability of the final product and to avoid water evaporation from the hydrogel layer, the elite team enhanced other processes throughout the manufacturing process: organic chemical solutions for the components to improve compressive strength, and strategic dry fixing of the hydrogel layer to best integrate with the surrounding electrical components.
In another distinctive process in the manufacturing process, a surface of the hydrogel layer was molded into a grid pattern consisting of pyramidal protrusions, which facilitated the working pressure sensitivity of the finished sensor. According to the experiments the size and spacing of such projections to obtain the best results were able to enhance this effect.
The working group carried out general tests on the sensor and the results showed that the whole manufacturing process successfully solved the difficulties of water evaporation and lack of structure in a solid way. In addition, the sensor can accurately measure the working pressure shift with higher sensitivity and consistency, and can be manufactured with higher cost effectiveness and scalability compared to previously observed sensors.
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