Wearable chemical sensor is made of gold

Technology News |
By Peter Clarke

Researchers have created a sensor made of a matrix of gold microfibers that can be used to measure biological signals on the skin using Raman spectroscopy. Because the biosensor is made from gold, which is inert, it can be worn without irritation or discomfort.

The work was performed by a team from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Tokyo

It works using a technique called Raman spectroscopy, where laser light aimed at the sensor is changed slightly depending on whatever chemicals are present on the skin at that point. The sensor is highly sensitive and can be fine-tuned for different biomarkers while being robust enough for practical use.

The main component of the sensor is the fine gold mesh. As a low-power laser is pointed at the gold mesh, some of the laser light is absorbed and some is reflected. Of the light reflected, most has the same energy as the incoming light. However, some incoming light loses energy to the biomarker or other measurable substance, and the discrepancy in energy between reflected and incident light is unique to the substance in question. Surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) is used for chemical identification.

The researchers think the sensor could be good for such applications as glucose monitoring or virus detection.

The research was reported in a paper “Highly scalable, wearable surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy,” published in Advanced Optical Materials: on June 22, 2022.

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