Nanotechnology for Self-Powered Medical Sensors
Biomedical sensors are seen as a potential breakthrough in the field of medicine, since these healthcare sensors could potentially help provide real-time data to patients and providers about their health and the effect of the environment on patients. Powering these sensors has remained a hurdle, but a new initiative spearheaded by North Carolina State University will focus on creating self-powering devices using nanotechnology.
NC State will be home to the new NSF Nanosystems Engineering Research Center for Advanced Self-Powered Systems of Integrated Sensors and Technologies (ASSIST). The joint effort with Florida International University, Pennsylvania State University, and the University of Virginia is funded by an $18.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation.
The health monitoring devices developed as part of the project could be worn on the chest, on the wrist, or even inside the patient’s mouth. By using nanomaterials and nanostructures, body heat and motion could be transformed into a power source. That would eliminate changing and recharging batteries for wireless health monitoring devices.
“Currently there are many devices out there that monitor health in different ways,” said Dr. Veena Misra, the center’s director and professor of electrical and computer engineering at NC State. “What’s unique about our technologies is the fact that they are powered by the human body, so they don’t require battery charging.”
The sensor research will be integrated with low-power radios developed at the University of Michigan for processing and transmitting health data to computers and consumer devices (like cell phones).
The center will be located in the Larry K. Monteith Engineering Research Center at NC State’s Centennial Campus. Researchers will develop thermoelectric materials to harvest body heat, and nanosensors that can record health information like heart rate and respiration data.
The center will feature a nanotechnology education program, including an undergraduate concentration and a graduate master’s certificate, as well as a personalized professional-development program for graduate students. ASSIST will also partner with 11 middle and high schools in North Carolina, Virginia, Florida and Pennsylvania to develop outreach activities that bring nanosystems engineering into K-12 classrooms. Students in partner high schools will have the chance to be involved in ASSIST research.
You can see a video about the project below:
Source: North Carolina State University