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Self-powered heart monitor fixes to the skin

Researchers from the Riken Institute have an ultra-flexible organic sensor, which is solar powered and functions as a self-powered heart monitor. The new devise is called an organic electrochemical transistor. This is a form of electronic device that records a range of biological functions.

In the first trial the researchers used the new heart monitor to assess heartbeats of rats. For the second trial, the device was used to record human heartbeat successfully, under bright light conditions. These trials demonstrated the suitability of the device to be used for medical applications. Examples include a physiological sensors for the real-time monitoring of heart or, with future modification, of brain function.

The main innovation with the device is the light-power function. Previous devices have been hampered by the need to be fitted with batteries and the problems that the weight and size of batteries cause. In addition, battery powered devices tend to suffer from interference arsing from ‘electronic noise’ arising from the electrical supply. The device requires a lighting level of 10,000 lux.

According to lead researcher Dr. Kenjiro Fukuda: “This is a nice step forward in the quest to make self-powered medical monitoring devices that can be placed on human tissue.”

Further research will focus on the digital silicon-based portion of the device to enable more effective transmission of data to remote devices, allowing medical data to be analyzed from different points or to be shared across devices.

The research has been published in the journal Nature. The research paper is titled “Self-powered ultra-flexible electronics via nano-grating-patterned organic photovoltaics.”

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Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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