Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

A movement-powered, biodegradable sensor aims to monitor vital pressures in the body

February 2018

“The ultimate goal is to improve patients’ quality of life,” says Thanh Nguyen, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Connecticut. To that end, he’s worked with colleagues to develop a biodegradable piezoelectric sensor that measures vital physiological pressures (1). The 5 mm by 5 mm sensor, only 200 μm thick, is made of flexible biocompatible materials, some of which generate electrical energy through deformation. But why do we need a device that meets such specifications? “Many traumatic injuries, and diseases lead to the buildup of dangerous internal pressures.” Nguyen says. “Monitoring them is tremendously important to provide timely intervention. The available sensors to monitor those pressures, however, are often bulky and non-degradable, requiring invasive removal surgery. We think a sensor based only on commonly used medical materials that can “self-vanish” after finishing its measurement task would be very significant.”