Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Flexible, Printable Sensors Detect Underwater Hazards

Abstract:
Breakthroughs in nanoengineering often involve building new materials or tiny circuits. But a professor at the University of California, San Diego is proving that he can make materials and circuits so flexible that they can be pulled, pushed and contorted - even under water - and still keep functioning properly.

Flexible, Printable Sensors Detect Underwater Hazards

San Diego, CA | Posted on July 8th, 2011

Joseph Wang has successfully printed thick-film electrochemical sensors directly on flexible wetsuit material, paving the way for nano devices to detect underwater explosives or ocean contamination.

"We have a long-term interest in on-body electrochemical monitoring for medical and security applications," said Wang, a professor in the Department of NanoEngineering in UC San Diego's Jacobs School of Engineering. "In the past three years we've been working on flexible, printable sensors, and the capabilities of our group made it possible to extend these systems for use underwater."

Wang notes that some members of his team - including electrical-engineering graduate student Joshua Windmiller - are surfers. Given the group's continued funding from the U.S. Navy, and its location in La Jolla, it was a logical leap to see if it would be possible to print sensors on neoprene, the synthetic-rubber fabric typically used in wetsuits for divers and surfers.

The result: development of "wearable electrochemical sensors for in situ analysis in marine environments." The paper, published last month in the journal Analyst*, was co-authored by UCSD's Wang, Windmiller and visiting scholar Gabriela Valdés-Ramírez from Mexico, as well as Michael J. Schöning and Kerstin Malzahn from the Institute of Nano- and Biotechnologies of Germany's Aachen University of Applied Sciences. (Malzahn is currently a visiting graduate student at UCSD from the German university.)

UCSD has a full U.S. patent pending on the technology, and has begun talks on licensing the system to a Fortune 500 company.

Wang's 20-person research group is a world leader in the field of printable sensors. But to prove that the sensors printed on neoprene could take a beating and continue working, some of Wang's colleagues took to the water.

"Anyone trying to take chemical readings under the water will typically have to carry a portable analyzer if they want to detect pollutants," said Wang, whose group is based in the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) at UCSD. "Instead, we printed a three-electrode sensor directly on the arm of the wetsuit, and inside the neoprene we embedded a 3-volt battery and electronics."

The electrochemical sensors are based on applying voltage to drive a reduction-oxidation (redox) reaction in a target threat or contaminant - which loses or gains electrons - then measuring the current output. The wearable microsystem provides a visual indication and alert if the levels of harmful contaminants or explosives exceed a pre-defined threshold. It does so by mixing different enzymes into the carbon ink layer before printing on the fabric. (For example, if the enzyme tyrosinase interacts with the pollutant phenol, the LED light switches from green to red.)

The electronics are packed into a device known as a potentiostat that is barely 19mm by 19mm. (The battery is stored on the reverse side of the circuit board.)

In the experiments described in the Analyst article, Wang and his team tested sensors for three potential hazards: a toxic metal (copper); a common industrial pollutant, phenol; and an explosive (TNT). The device also has the potential to detect multiple hazards. "In the paper we used only one electrode," noted Wang, "but you can have an array of electrodes, each with its own reagent to detect simultaneously multiple contaminants."

The researchers believe that neoprene is a particularly good fabric on which to print sensors because it is elastic and repels water. It permits high-resolution printing with no apparent defects.

The UCSD team tested the sensor for explosives because of the security hazard highlighted by the 2000 attack on the USS Cole in Yemen. The Navy commonly checks for underwater explosives using a bulky device that a diver must carry underwater to scan the ship's hull. Using the microsystem developed by Wang and his team, the sensor printed on a wetsuit can quickly and easily alert the diver to nearby explosives.

Wang's lab has extensive experience printing sensors on flexible fabrics, most recently demonstrating that biosensors printed on the rubber waistband of underwear can be used continuously to monitor the vital signs of soldiers or athletes. The researchers were uncertain, however, about whether bending the printed sensors under water - and in seawater - would still let them continue functioning properly.

In the end, even underwater, and with bending and other deformations, the sensors continued to perform well. "We still need to validate and test it with the Navy," said Wang. "While the primary security interest will be in the detection of explosives, the Navy in San Diego bay has also detected large concentrations of toxic metals from the paint on Navy ships, so in principle we should be able to print sensors that can detect metals and explosives simultaneously."

Wang's work in flexible sensors grew out of 20 years' experience with innovations in glucose monitoring, ultimately in the form of flexible glucose strips that now account for a $10 billion market worldwide.

Work on the underwater sensors was supported by the Office of Naval Research.

* Wearable electrochemical sensors for in situ analysis in marine environments, Kerstin Malzahn, Joshua Ray Windmiller, Gabriela Valdés-Ramírez, Michael J. Schöning and Joseph Wang, Analyst, June 2011.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Doug Ramsey
858-822-5825

Copyright © Newswise

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Quantum twisted Loong confirms the physical reality of wavefunctions September 23rd, 2017

Application of air-sensitive semiconductors in nanoelectronics: 2-D semiconductor gallium selenide in encapsulated nanoelectronic devices September 22nd, 2017

Researchers set time limit for ultrafast perovskite solar cells September 22nd, 2017

DNA triggers shape-shifting in hydrogels, opening a new way to make 'soft robots' September 21st, 2017

Flexible Electronics

Silk could improve sensitivity, flexibility of wearable body sensors August 20th, 2017

Nanocrystalline LEDs: Red, green, yellow, blue ... August 7th, 2017

New ultrafast flexible and transparent memory devices could herald new era of electronics April 1st, 2017

New low-cost technique converts bulk alloys to oxide nanowires January 24th, 2017

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Quantum twisted Loong confirms the physical reality of wavefunctions September 23rd, 2017

DNA triggers shape-shifting in hydrogels, opening a new way to make 'soft robots' September 21st, 2017

Copper catalyst yields high efficiency CO2-to-fuels conversion: Berkeley Lab scientists discover critical role of nanoparticle transformation September 20th, 2017

Solar-to-fuel system recycles CO2 to make ethanol and ethylene: Berkeley Lab advance is first demonstration of efficient, light-powered production of fuel via artificial photosynthesis September 19th, 2017

Sensors

Leti Develops Proof of Concept to Test Wireless Systems in Aircraft: Will Present Results of Joint Project at AeroTech Conference And Exhibition in Fort Worth, Texas, Sept. 26-28 September 20th, 2017

Research shows how DNA molecules cross nanopores: Study could inform biosensors, manufacturing, and more September 5th, 2017

Leti and Partners in PiezoMAT Project Develop New Fingerprint Technology for Highly Reliable Security and ID Applications: Ultra-high Resolution Pressure Sensing Uses Matrices of Vertical Piezoelectric Nanowire To Reconstruct the Smallest Features of Human Fingerprints September 5th, 2017

New results reveal high tunability of 2-D material: Berkeley Lab-led team also provides most precise band gap measurement yet for hotly studied monolayer moly sulfide August 26th, 2017

Nanoelectronics

Application of air-sensitive semiconductors in nanoelectronics: 2-D semiconductor gallium selenide in encapsulated nanoelectronic devices September 22nd, 2017

GLOBALFOUNDRIES Introduces New 12nm FinFET Technology for High-Performance Applications September 20th, 2017

Bit data goes anti-skyrmions September 1st, 2017

Ames Laboratory scientists move graphene closer to transistor applications August 30th, 2017

Discoveries

Quantum twisted Loong confirms the physical reality of wavefunctions September 23rd, 2017

Application of air-sensitive semiconductors in nanoelectronics: 2-D semiconductor gallium selenide in encapsulated nanoelectronic devices September 22nd, 2017

Researchers set time limit for ultrafast perovskite solar cells September 22nd, 2017

DNA triggers shape-shifting in hydrogels, opening a new way to make 'soft robots' September 21st, 2017

Announcements

Quantum twisted Loong confirms the physical reality of wavefunctions September 23rd, 2017

Application of air-sensitive semiconductors in nanoelectronics: 2-D semiconductor gallium selenide in encapsulated nanoelectronic devices September 22nd, 2017

Researchers set time limit for ultrafast perovskite solar cells September 22nd, 2017

DNA triggers shape-shifting in hydrogels, opening a new way to make 'soft robots' September 21st, 2017

Printing/Lithography/Inkjet/Inks/Bio-printing

Graphene based terahertz absorbers: Printable graphene inks enable ultrafast lasers in the terahertz range September 13th, 2017

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet August 17th, 2017

Simultaneous Design and Nanomanufacturing Speeds Up Fabrication: Method enhances broadband light absorption in solar cells August 5th, 2017

Meniscus-assisted technique produces high efficiency perovskite PV films July 7th, 2017

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project