Scientists develop tiny tooth-mounted sensors that can track what you eat
Monitoring instantly what happens around our bodies can be very invaluable in the framework of healthcare or medical studies, however, not very easy to do. Which could soon change because of new, tiny tooth-mounted sensors developed by scientists at the Tufts University School of Engineering that, when attached on teeth and interacting wirelessly with a mobile device, can transfer information on blood sugar, salt, and liquor intake. In research to be published soon in the journal Advanced Materials, researchers note that future adaptations of the sensors could permit the diagnosis and saving of a variety of nutrition, chemicals, and physiological states.
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Earlier wearable devices for monitoring eating intake experienced limits such as necessitating the use of your mouth guard, bulky wiring, or necessitating frequent replacement unit as the receptors gradually degraded. Tufts engineers sought a far more adaptable technology and developed tiny tooth-mounted sensors with only 2mm x 2mm footprint that can flexibly conform and bond to the unusual surface of your tooth. In a similar fashion to the way, a toll is collected on a highway, the sensors transmit their data wirelessly in response to an incoming radiofrequency signal.
The sensors are made of three sandwiched layers: a central “bioresponsive” part that absorbs the nutrient or other chemicals to be identified, and outer layers comprising two square-shaped gold rings. Jointly, the three levels act like a little antenna, collecting and transmitting waves in the radiofrequency range. As an inbound wave strikes the sensor, a few of it is terminated out and the others transmitted back, as being a patch of blue coloring absorbs redder wavelengths and reflects the blue back again to our eyes.
The sensor, however, can transform its “color.” For instance, if the central coating takes on salt or ethanol, its electric-powered properties will change, triggering the sensor to soak up and transmit some other spectral range of radiofrequency waves, with differing intensity. That’s how nutrition and other analytes can be found and measured.
“In theory, we can modify the bioresponsive layer in these sensors to target other chemicals – we are really limited only by our creativity,” said Fiorenzo Omenetto, Ph.D., corresponding author and the Frank C. Doble Professor of Engineering at Tufts. “We have extended common RFID [radiofrequency ID] technology to a sensor package that can dynamically read and transmit information on its environment, whether it is affixed to a tooth, to the skin, or any other surface.”