Wei Gao, a researcher at the California Institute of Technology, has designed an interesting sensor that can monitor metabolites and nutrient levels in people’s blood by analyzing their sweat. The sensor can be mass produced and is more sensitive than the equipment currently available to detect sweat composition, detecting sweat compounds at much lower concentrations.
Gao says the sensor he invented uses microfluidic technology to capture health changes quickly, continuously and noninvasively at the molecular level, so tests can be done with very little sweat.
This wearable sensor uses channels less than a quarter of a millimeter wide to drain, in which case freshly supplied sweat flows through the microchannel, more accurately measuring sweat and continuously capturing desired compounds, as well as breathing rates, heart rate, and uric acid and tyrosine levels.
Tyrosine was chosen as an indicator because it indicates metabolic disorders, and uric acid is chosen because elevated levels cause gout. In tests, the sensor was able to determine exactly if a person had gout. Until now, most of these types of wearable sensors have been manufactured through a photolithography evaporation process that requires a more complex and expensive manufacturing process. The newly invented sensors are made of graphene, which is much easier and much cheaper to build than similar sensors using other technologies.