Scientists from The Australian National University (ANU) have designed tiny optical sensors that open the door to developing a wearable sensors device that allows doctors to medically diagnose people’s health in real time.
Associate Professor Antonio Tricoli says the wearable sensors, which are 50 times thinner than a human hair, promised to one day help doctors detect diseases such as diabetes much earlier than is possible today, and better manage a range of chronic diseases.
“These ultra-small sensors could be integrated into a watch to literally provide a window on our health,” says Dr Tricoli, leader of the Nanotechnology Research Laboratory at the ANU Research School of Engineering.
“This exciting invention shows that we are on the cusp of designing the next generation of wearable devices that will help people to stay well for longer and lead better lives.”
Dr Tricoli says the sensors could measure very small concentrations of gases coming through your skin and breath called metabolites, allowing doctors to keep track of people’s health in real-time – a breakthrough in medical research.
“A wearable medical diagnostic device using our optical sensors may one day eliminate the need for blood tests and many other invasive procedures.”
Zelio Fusco, a PhD scholar in Dr Tricoli’s lab, says the new sensors had advantages over other types being developed for wearable medical devices because they can detect metabolites in much smaller concentrations and operate at room temperature.
“The beauty of our sensors is that they are super versatile and can be integrated into different technologies for applications ranging from medical diagnosis, farming and space exploration,” says Mr Fusco.