Students and Faculty Work Together to Create Smart Skin Biomedical Sensor

Article ID: 663037

Released: 18-Oct-2016 10:05 AM EDT

Source Newsroom: Wichita State University

  • Credit: Wichita State University

    Student and faculty researchers at Wichita State University are creating a smart skin biomedical sensor that could someday be used by NASA.

  • Credit: Wichita State University

    Skin patch

  • Credit: Courtesy

    Student assistant Jessica Aldrich at the NASA Johnson Space Center.

Newswise — - A group of student and faculty researchers are developing a smart skin biomedical sensor partially funded by NASA.

- The sensor could easily measure parameters such as blood flow and intercranial pressure.

- The research group is getting approval to test the sensor on human subjects. Anyone interested can email kim.cluff@wichita.edu.

Student and faculty researchers at Wichita State University are creating a smart skin biomedical sensor that could someday be used by NASA.

The sensor is being created by the research team of Kim Cluff, Anil Mahapatro and Jeremy Patterson, along with the help of nearly a dozen WSU students and several seniors from the Project Lead the Way outreach program at Wichita North High School.

Smart skin sensor

If the sensor does what they expect, it would be able to measure multiple physiological parameters that NASA is interested in, including blood flow, intercranial pressure, blood health, blood gas levels and muscle degeneration.

Based on early research, the team has been awarded with a $1.125 million NASA grant to continue development of the sensor.

The sensor, which can fit on a person's upper arm like a patch, is a piece of copper configured into a spiral.

When activated by a radio frequency, it causes the patch to resonate and develop magnetic fields that penetrate into the tissue.

As blood flows through the tissue, it causes fluctuations in the magnetic field, allowing researchers (or eventually doctors) to get a much deeper and more accurate measurement than other wearable sensors such as those found on smart phones or smart watches.

And it does this with no batteries or electrical components or connections, making the small wearable sensor particularly appealing to NASA, Cluff says.

"That makes it really robust and is why NASA is interested in it," Cluff says. "You don't have to worry about a certain component failing; the design is very simple."

Cluff says he also envisions using the device for patients who have arterial diseases as an early-detection point-of-care diagnostic.

The researchers at Wichita State are using a fairly large device to energize the patch, but Cluff says the goal is to design it so a mobile phone could be held up to the patch and energize it through the phone's radio frequency.

So far, they have used a skull lent to them by WSU's Anthropology Department for testing. But the next step is to collect data on humans.

Cluff says because the energy used for the sensor is the same that people have on them every day with their phones, the risk is very low.

The research group is in the process of getting Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval to test the skin patch on human subjects.

The IRB is a committee set up for the protection of human subjects.

Photographs are available at http://www.wichita.edu/thisis/wsunews/newsrelease/highres/?pid=7124, http://www.wichita.edu/thisis/wsunews/newsrelease/highres/?pid=7123, http://www.wichita.edu/thisis/wsunews/newsrelease/highres/?pid=7122

Contact: Kim Cluff, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, 316-978-5905 or kim.cluff@wichita.edu.


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