Printed, ultra-thin, and highly sensitive nanocomposite sensors offer an adaptable and reliable solution to current technologies such as pressure sensors - a solution on which Chemnitz University of Technology has conducted research and presented results and prototypes.
The results are particularly relevant with regard to the treatment of patients in whom the blood sugar level is abnormally high (diabetes mellitus).
The aim of the project "High tech sensor technology for the challenge of demographic change in Saxony", which is based at the Professorship of Electrical Measurements and Sensor Technology (Prof. Olfa Kanoun) at Chemnitz University of Technology, was to develop sensor mats to support the treatment of pressure ulcers in patients with diabetes mellitus.
Pressure sensors at specific anatomical points of the foot transmit therapy-relevant data.
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A special novelty of this project is the embedding of carbon nanotubes (CNT) based sensors that can measure pressure with high precision. The use of CNTs for the production of pressure sensors is a unique selling point of "SenseCare" for the healthcare and medical sector.
With their embedded sensor technology, these sensor mats are able to detect changes in temperature, pressure and humidity when they come into contact with the human body. For this purpose, the project team produced ultra-thin sensors in the micrometer range. The research team developed the sensors on the basis of CNTs, which in turn are printed on polymer films. These sensors are suitable as aids in health care and for monitoring patients with certain health problems such as diabetes-related ulcers or non-healing wounds.
The operating principle of CNT-based pressure sensors is based on the measurable change in the electrical resistance of the sensor material when pressure, temperature and humidity change.
Two prototypes were developed for testing the sensors: a mat and a sole. The mat can be double-layered, i.e. it works on both sides and is capable of sensing temperature and humidity on one side and pressure on the other. The insole, on the other hand, can sense pressure at specific anatomical points, for example the ball of the foot and the heel.
This data is measured in real time and can be displayed via a graphical user interface. This is of particular interest to diabetes mellitus patients. In the laboratory this is done on the desktop, but mobile use via an app is conceivable and feasible.
MEDICA-tradefair.com; Source: Chemnitz University of Technology