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August 10, 2022

HKU researchers develop wearable biosensing system

The new device can be integrated with a smartwatch and continuously monitors biosignals.

A team of researchers from the University of Hong Kong ’s (HKU) Faculty of Engineering has developed a coin-sized wearable biosensing platform for digital health monitoring.

The Personalised Electronic Reader for Electrochemical Transistors (PERfECT) System has been designed to read weak electrochemical signals that can be used for personalised health monitoring and measuring conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and mental health.

Measuring 1.5cm x 1.5cm x 0.2cm and weighing just 0.4 grams, the PERfECT system is claimed to be the smallest device of its kind in the world.

It is easy to wear and can be integrated with a smartwatch or worn as a patch to continuously monitor biosignals, including antibody concentrations and glucose levels in blood and sweat.

HKU WISE Research Group Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering assistant professor Dr Shiming Zhang said: “Our wearable system is tiny, soft and imperceptible to wearers, and it can do continuous monitoring of our body condition.

“These features mean it has the potential to revolutionise healthcare technology.”

The technology represents a major step forward for organic electrochemical transistors.

These transistors are widely regarded as the next-generation sensor technology due to their water stability and high sensitivity at low operating voltage (milli-volts).

The new wearable system has the ability to accurately characterise the complete performance of the electrochemical transistor, with data sampling rate of up to 200 kilosamples per second.

Additionally, the PERfECT System can serve as a miniaturised electrochemical station for wearable devices.

It can also measure the outputs of other types of low-voltage transistors, including high-k dielectric-gated thin-film transistors and electrolyte-gated field effect transistors.

The system can immediately be applied in several wearable systems based on low voltage transistors.

Dr Zhang’s group has created a start-up company, named SESIC, to make the new technology accessible.

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