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Fields & Applications Sensors, Technology, Clinical

A Flexible Friend

What?

A flexible 3D-printed sensor array that can determine oxygen saturation in blood in real-time, providing an “early warning signal” for hypoxemia (oxygen deficiency in arterial blood).

How?

Comprising organic light-emitting diodes and photo-diodes, the sensor passes two wavelengths of light through the body. Oxygen-rich blood absorbs more infrared light, while blood below the patient’s oxygen baseline will absorb more red light.

Why?

The researchers wanted to devise a lightweight alternative to the bulky finger-clip sensors that are used currently. The flexibility of the array also means it can be placed in various locations on the body, increasing the potential applications.

Who?

The research was conducted by a team at University of California, Berkeley (1). It was supported by the Cambridge Display Technology Limited and by Intel Corporation via Semiconductor Research Corporation.

What next?

The researchers believe the sensor can be used to assess wound healing, as well as conditions such as sleep apnea and diabetes.

Why?

The researchers wanted to devise a lightweight alternative to the bulky finger-clip sensors that are used currently. The flexibility of the array also means it can be placed in various locations on the body, increasing the potential applications.

Who?

The research was conducted by a team at University of California, Berkeley (1). It was supported by the Cambridge Display Technology Limited and by Intel Corporation via Semiconductor Research Corporation.

What next?

The researchers believe the sensor can be used to assess wound healing, as well as conditions such as sleep apnea and diabetes.

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  1. Y Khan et al., “A flexible organic reflectance oximeter array”, Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 115 [Epub before print] (2018). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1813053115
About the Author
Joanna Cummings

A former library manager and storyteller, I have wanted to write for magazines since I was six years old, when I used to make my own out of foolscap paper and sellotape and distribute them to my family. Since getting my MSc in Publishing, I’ve worked as a freelance writer and content creator for both digital and print, writing on subjects such as fashion, food, tourism, photography – and the history of Roman toilets. Now I can be found working on The Analytical Scientist, finding the ‘human angle’ to cutting-edge science stories.

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