Australian scientists say new "micro-sensor" could revolutionize health care

CANBERRA, June 7 (Xinhua) -- Scientists from the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra have designed microscopic optical sensors that could enable real-time health monitoring.

The sensors, which are 50 times thinner than a human hair, could be fitted into a wearable device, such as a watch, to allow people and their doctors to regularly check their health.

The breakthrough promises to help doctors detect diseases, such as diabetes, much earlier than is possible today.

Associate Professor Antonio Tricoli, leader of the Nanotechnology Research Laboratory at the ANU Research School of Engineering, said on Thursday the sensors opened the door to a revolution in health care.

The research was conducted in partnership with the Queensland University of Technology and the Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, and hopes to better manage a range of chronic diseases.

"These ultra-small sensors could be integrated into a watch to literally provide a window on our health," Tricoli told the ANU website.

"This exciting invention shows that we are on the cusp of designing the next generation of wearable devices that will help people to stay well for longer and lead better lives."

Tricoli said the sensors could measure very small concentrations of gases coming through skin and breath, called metabolites, allowing doctors to keep track of people's health in real time.

"You could simply use a pulse of light to track these biomarkers of disease, there'd be no need for batteries, wires or large and expensive lab equipment," he said.

"A wearable medical diagnostic device using our optical sensors may one day eliminate the need for blood tests and many other invasive procedures."

The ANU team's sensors are said to be super versatile and have numerous applications, ranging from medical diagnosis, farming and space exploration, to whether a plant has a particular disease or a fruit is ripe.

[ Editor: WPY ]


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