Nanocellulose Wearable Sensors Improved over Conventional Ones


In a new development, researchers at the University of Sao Paulo, Sao Carlos in collaboration with peers at Sao Paulo State University, the University of Araraquara, Brazilian National Nanotechnogy Laboratory, and the University of Campinas have created a wearable sensor printed on microbial nanocellulose.

The skin-adhesive sensor is an improved substitute of conventional ones printed on plastic surfaces. The sensor can be used to detect and monitor body fluids present in the sweat in a non-invasive manner.

Microbial Nanocellulose works better for Human Skin Contact

“Meanwhile, microbial nanocellulose is a 100 percent natural polymer. It is manufactured by bacteria from sugar. Microbial cellulose has advantage over plastic in terms of better interface with human skin. Among other applications, microbial nanocellulose is commercially available for some years in wound dressings. However, earlier, it had never been investigated as an electrochemical sensor substrate,” stated the first co-author of the study.

One problem of wearable sensors printed on plastic substrates is that perspiration acts a barrier between the skin and the sensor, thereby hindering detection and making way for allergies. On the other hand, nanocellulose is totally breathable, because of which sweat can reach the electrode’s active coating.

Structurally, the nanocellulose sensor is a small adhesive rectangle of dimension 1.5 cm*0.5 cm and has thickness as thin as a tissue paper. The sensor can detect a range of biomarkers such as potassium, sodium, lactic acid, glucose, and uric acid among others. These substances flow in the bloodstream and can also be detected in sweat. Therefore, nanocellulose sensor finds one possible application in diabetes monitoring. Another possible application of nanocellulose sensor is hormone control in women via detecting the hormone estradiol.

Furthermore, the device can also find use to detect the presence of atmospheric pollutants in organisms.

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