US researchers create biofuel-based sensor to diagnose diseases

1 October 2018 (Last Updated October 1st, 2018 12:12)

A research team from Washington State University (WSU) has developed a new biofuel-based sensor that can be implanted into the body for tracking biological signals in order to diagnose diseases.

US researchers create biofuel-based sensor to diagnose diseases
The new implantable, biofuel-powered sensor can help detect diseases. Credit: Washington State University.

A research team from Washington State University (WSU) has developed a new biofuel-based sensor that can be implanted into the body for tracking biological signals in order to diagnose diseases.

The sensor has been designed to run on sugar by harvesting glucose from body fluids. It comprises electronics to process both physiological and biochemical signals.

“The researchers have already tested the sensor in the lab and are planning to assess and demonstrate it in blood capillaries, after potentially obtaining the necessary regulatory approval.”

Though the electronics in the sensor require less power, they are said to be highly sensitive. As the biofuel-based sensor depends on body glucose, it eliminates the need for recharging.

WSU School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science assistant professor Subhanshu Gupta said: “The human body carries a lot of fuel in its bodily fluids through blood glucose or lactate around the skin and mouth. Using a biofuel cell opens the door to using the body as potential fuel.”

In contrast to lithium-ion batteries, the new sensor is said to be completely non-toxic, allowing implantation in people. Also, it is more stable and sensitive compared to traditional biofuel cells.

According to the team, mass production of the biofuel-powered sensor can be cost-effective.

The researchers have already tested the sensor in the lab and are planning to assess and demonstrate it in blood capillaries, after potentially obtaining the necessary regulatory approval.

Furthermore, the team intends to improve and enhance the power output of the biofuel sensor.

Gupta added: “This brings together the technology for making a biofuel cell with our sophisticated electronics. It’s a very good marriage that could work for many future applications.”

Findings from the research were published in the IEEE Transactions on Circuits and Systems journal.