Australian National University (ANU) scientists have designed tiny optical sensors that could allow doctors to diagnose people’s health in real time. The sensors are reported to be 50 times thinner than a human hair and are expected to help doctors detect diseases such as diabetes earlier, and to better manage a range of chronic diseases, a recent article in Printed Electronics World reported.
Dr. Antonio Tricoli is the leader of the team at the Nanotechnology Research Laboratory at the ANU Research School of Engineering. He said the sensors can measure small concentrations of gases and metabolites that come through a person’s skin and breath.
Gold nanostructures are combined with semiconductors in the sensors to enable the detection of gas molecules at very low concentrations. The sensors operate at room temperature and are small enough to be integrated into a watch, for example.
“You could simply use a pulse of light to track these biomarkers of disease – there’d be no need for batteries, wires or large and expensive lab equipment,” Tricoli said. The team hopes that, eventually, there will be no need for blood tests or invasive procedures.