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Techniques & Tools Sensors, Clinical

Sweating the Small Stuff

A new waterproof, flexible sensor could be the latest way for athletes to monitor their health and hydration. Tracking biomarkers through sweat analysis is an increasingly popular technique in diagnostics, but John Rogers and the rest of his US-China team have taken it to the next level, by creating a sweat-collecting sensor that can function underwater and – crucially – stay in place on the body, even during vigorous swimming.

The device combines a waterproof microfluidic, absorbent pad and a nearfield communication sensor, all attached using a skin-safe adhesive. Initial trials have been promising; the devices have been able to successfully measure loss and chloride concentration of sweat and skin temperature. The researchers believe it could be used for cystic fibrosis screening in babies (which is also measured by chloride levels in sweat).

Rogers and his colleagues have been working on stretchable sensors for some time, and the iterations continue to evolve – next, they plan to try to measure electrolyte losses. Well they do say genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration…

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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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