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Concept: Sensors


Flexible, wearable sensing devices can yield important information about the underlying physiology of a human subject for applications in real-time health and fitness monitoring. Despite significant progress in the fabrication of flexible biosensors that naturally comply with the epidermis, most designs measure only a small number of physical or electrophysiological parameters, and neglect the rich chemical information available from biomarkers. Here, we introduce a skin-worn wearable hybrid sensing system that offers simultaneous real-time monitoring of a biochemical (lactate) and an electrophysiological signal (electrocardiogram), for more comprehensive fitness monitoring than from physical or electrophysiological sensors alone. The two sensing modalities, comprising a three-electrode amperometric lactate biosensor and a bipolar electrocardiogram sensor, are co-fabricated on a flexible substrate and mounted on the skin. Human experiments reveal that physiochemistry and electrophysiology can be measured simultaneously with negligible cross-talk, enabling a new class of hybrid sensing devices.

Concepts: Chemistry, Electrophysiology, Cardiac electrophysiology, Signal processing, Electroencephalography, Skin, Sensors, Electrocardiography


This paper presents a fully differential single-axis accelerometer fabricated using the MetalMUMPs process. The unique structural configuration and common-centriod wiring of the metal electrodes enables a fully differential sensing scheme with robust metal sensing structures. CoventorWare is used in structural and electrical design and simulation of the fully differential accelerometer. The MUMPs foundry fabrication process of the sensor allows for high yield, good process consistency and provides 20 μm structural thickness of the sensing element, which makes the capacitive sensing eligible. In device characterization, surface profile of the fabricated device is measured using a Veeco surface profilometer; and mean and gradient residual stress in the nickel structure are calculated as approximately 94.7 MPa and -5.27 MPa/μm, respectively. Dynamic characterization of the sensor is performed using a vibration shaker with a high-end commercial calibrating accelerometer as reference. The sensitivity of the sensor is measured as 0.52 mV/g prior to off-chip amplification. Temperature dependence of the sensing capacitance is also characterized. A -0.021fF/°C is observed. The findings in the presented work will provide useful information for design of sensors and actuators such as accelerometers, gyroscopes and electrothermal actuators that are to be fabricated using MetalMUMPs technology.

Concepts: Structure, Microelectromechanical systems, Transducer, Accelerometer, Sensor, Sensors, Profilometer, Capacitive displacement sensor


A new gait phase detection system for continuous monitoring based on wireless sensorized insoles is presented. The system can be used in gait analysis mobile applications, and it is designed for real-time demarcation of gait phases. The system employs pressure sensors to assess the force exerted by each foot during walking. A fuzzy rule-based inference algorithm is implemented on a smartphone and used to detect each of the gait phases based on the sensor signals. Additionally, to provide a solution that is insensitive to perturbations caused by non-walking activities, a probabilistic classifier is employed to discriminate walking forward from other low-level activities, such as turning, walking backwards, lateral walking, etc. The combination of these two algorithms constitutes the first approach towards a continuous gait assessment system, by means of the avoidance of non-walking influences.

Concepts: Algorithm, Assessment, Phase, Transducer, Personal digital assistant, Sensor, Sensors, Locomotion


Wearable sensor technologies are essential to the realization of personalized medicine through continuously monitoring an individual’s state of health. Sampling human sweat, which is rich in physiological information, could enable non-invasive monitoring. Previously reported sweat-based and other non-invasive biosensors either can only monitor a single analyte at a time or lack on-site signal processing circuitry and sensor calibration mechanisms for accurate analysis of the physiological state. Given the complexity of sweat secretion, simultaneous and multiplexed screening of target biomarkers is critical and requires full system integration to ensure the accuracy of measurements. Here we present a mechanically flexible and fully integrated (that is, no external analysis is needed) sensor array for multiplexed in situ perspiration analysis, which simultaneously and selectively measures sweat metabolites (such as glucose and lactate) and electrolytes (such as sodium and potassium ions), as well as the skin temperature (to calibrate the response of the sensors). Our work bridges the technological gap between signal transduction, conditioning (amplification and filtering), processing and wireless transmission in wearable biosensors by merging plastic-based sensors that interface with the skin with silicon integrated circuits consolidated on a flexible circuit board for complex signal processing. This application could not have been realized using either of these technologies alone owing to their respective inherent limitations. The wearable system is used to measure the detailed sweat profile of human subjects engaged in prolonged indoor and outdoor physical activities, and to make a real-time assessment of the physiological state of the subjects. This platform enables a wide range of personalized diagnostic and physiological monitoring applications.

Concepts: Measurement, Signal processing, Integrated circuit, Potassium, Electrical engineering, Sensor, Sensors, Flexible electronics


Earthquakes are lethal natural disasters frequently burying people alive under collapsed buildings. Tracking entrapped humans from their unique volatile chemical signature with hand-held devices would accelerate urban search and rescue (USaR) efforts. Here, a pilot study is presented with compact and orthogonal sensor arrays to detect the breath- and skin-emitted metabolic tracers acetone, ammonia, isoprene, CO2and relative humidity (RH), all together serving as sign of life. It consists of three nanostructured metal-oxide sensors (Si-doped WO3, Si-doped MoO3and Ti-doped ZnO), each specifically tailored at the nanoscale for highly sensitive and selective tracer detection along with commercial CO2and humidity sensors. When tested on humans enclosed in plethysmography chambers to simulate entrapment, this sensor array rapidly detected sub-ppm acetone, ammonia and isoprene concentrations with high accuracies (19, 21 and 3 ppb, respectively) and precision, unprecedented by portable sensors but required for USaR. These results were in good agreement (Pearson’s correlation coefficients ≥ 0.9) with bench-top selective reagent ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (SRI-TOF-MS). As a result, an inexpensive sensor array is presented that can be integrated readily into hand-held or even drone-carried detectors for first responders to rapidly screen affected terrain.

Concepts: Mass spectrometry, Humidity, Relative humidity, Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient, Sensor, Sensors, Time-of-flight


Successful commercialization of wearable diagnostic sensors necessitates stability in detection of analytes over prolonged and continuous exposure to sweat. Challenges are primarily in ensuring target disease specific small analytes (i.e. metabolites, proteins, etc.) stability in complex sweat buffer with varying pH levels and composition over time. We present a facile approach to address these challenges using RTILs with antibody functionalized sensors on nanoporous, flexible polymer membranes. Temporal studies were performed using both infrared spectroscopic, dynamic light scattering, and impedimetric spectroscopy to demonstrate stability in detection of analytes, Interleukin-6 (IL-6) and Cortisol, from human sweat in RTILs. Temporal stability in sensor performance was performed as follows: (a) detection of target analytes after 0, 24, 48, 96, and 168 hours post-antibody sensor functionalization; and (b) continuous detection of target analytes post-antibody sensor functionalization. Limit of detection of IL-6 in human sweat was 0.2 pg/mL for 0-24 hours and 2 pg/mL for 24-48 hours post-antibody sensor functionalization. Continuous detection of IL-6 over 0.2-200 pg/mL in human sweat was demonstrated for a period of 10 hours post-antibody sensor functionalization. Furthermore, combinatorial detection of IL-6 and Cortisol in human sweat was established with minimal cross-talk for 0-48 hours post-antibody sensor functionalization.

Concepts: Spectroscopy, Scattering, PH, Ionic liquid, Sensors, Light scattering, Dynamic light scattering, Rayleigh scattering


Integrated chemical and biological sensors give advantages in cost, size and weight reduction and open new prospects for parallel monitoring and analysis. Biosensors based on nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS) are the most attractive candidates for the integrated platform. However, actuation and transduction techniques (e.g. electrostatic, magnetomotive, thermal or piezoelectric) limit their operation to laboratory conditions. All-optical approach gives the possibility to overcome this problem, nevertheless, the existing schemes are either fundamentally macroscopic or excessively complicated and expensive in mass production. Here we propose a novel scheme of extremely compact NEMS biosensor monolithically integrated on a chip with all-nanophotonic transduction and actuation. It consists of the nanophotonic waveguide and the nanobeam cantilever placed above the waveguide, both fabricated in the same CMOS-compatible process. Being in the near field of the strongly confined photonic or plasmonic mode, cantilever is efficiently actuated and its response is directly read out using the same waveguide, which results in a very high sensitivity and capability of single-molecule detection even in atmosphere.

Concepts: Mass, Nanotechnology, Surface plasmon resonance, Atomic force microscopy, Microelectromechanical systems, Sensors, Weight, Nanoelectronics


There is a growing number of applications demanding highly sensitive photodetectors in the mid-infrared. Thermal photodetectors, such as bolometers, have emerged as the technology of choice, because they do not need cooling. The performance of a bolometer is linked to its temperature coefficient of resistance (TCR, ∼2-4% K(-1) for state-of-the-art materials). Graphene is ideally suited for optoelectronic applications, with a variety of reported photodetectors ranging from visible to THz frequencies. For the mid-infrared, graphene-based detectors with TCRs ∼4-11% K(-1) have been demonstrated. Here we present an uncooled, mid-infrared photodetector, where the pyroelectric response of a LiNbO3 crystal is transduced with high gain (up to 200) into resistivity modulation for graphene. This is achieved by fabricating a floating metallic structure that concentrates the pyroelectric charge on the top-gate capacitor of the graphene channel, leading to TCRs up to 900% K(-1), and the ability to resolve temperature variations down to 15 μK.

Concepts: Optics, Electromagnetic radiation, Frequency, Electrical conductivity, Photodiode, Infrared, Sensors, Detectors


The emergence of personalized and stratified medicine requires label-free, low-cost diagnostic technology capable of monitoring multiple disease biomarkers in parallel. Silicon photonic biosensors combine high-sensitivity analysis with scalable, low-cost manufacturing, but they tend to measure only a single biomarker and provide no information about their (bio)chemical activity. Here we introduce an electrochemical silicon photonic sensor capable of highly sensitive and multiparameter profiling of biomarkers. Our electrophotonic technology consists of microring resonators optimally n-doped to support high Q resonances alongside electrochemical processes in situ. The inclusion of electrochemical control enables site-selective immobilization of different biomolecules on individual microrings within a sensor array. The combination of photonic and electrochemical characterization also provides additional quantitative information and unique insight into chemical reactivity that is unavailable with photonic detection alone. By exploiting both the photonic and the electrical properties of silicon, the sensor opens new modalities for sensing on the microscale.

Concepts: Medicine, Sensors, Silicon photonics


The advances in micro- and nanofabrication technologies enable the preparation of increasingly smaller mechanical transducers capable of detecting the forces, motion, mechanical properties and masses that emerge in biomolecular interactions and fundamental biological processes. Thus, biosensors based on nanomechanical systems have gained considerable relevance in the last decade. This review provides insight into the mechanical phenomena that occur in suspended mechanical structures when either biological adsorption or interactions take place on their surface. This review guides the reader through the parameters that change as a consequence of biomolecular adsorption: mass, surface stress, effective Young’s modulus and viscoelasticity. The mathematical background needed to correctly interpret the output signals from nanomechanical biosensors is also outlined here. Other practical issues reviewed are the immobilization of biomolecular receptors on the surface of nanomechanical systems and methods to attain that in large arrays of sensors. We then describe some relevant realizations of biosensor devices based on nanomechanical systems that harness some of the mechanical effects cited above. We finally discuss the intrinsic detection limits of the devices and the limitation that arises from non-specific adsorption.

Concepts: Mass, Materials science, Young's modulus, Elasticity, Sensors, The Reader, Surface chemistry, Biosensor