An Ultrathin Microfibre Sensor Developed to Monitor Healthcare and Diagnosis Real-Time

The National University of Singapore (NUS) research team has developed a new soft, flexible and stretchable microfibre sensor for real-time healthcare monitoring and diagnosis. This Microfiber sensor measures an individual’s pulse waveform in real-time, and the information can be used to determine one’s heart rate, blood pressure and stiffness in blood vessels.

This innovative novel sensor is highly sensitive and ultra-thin with a diameter of a strand of human hair. It is also simple to use and cost-effective to mass produce.

It can hardly be felt on the skin and integrates extremely well to skin curvatures. The sensor is highly sensitive and additionally has an excellent electrical conductivity and mechanical deformability.

The microfibre sensor can be utilised for real-time monitoring of pulse waveform as it comprises a liquid metallic alloy, which serves as the sensing element, encapsulated within a soft silicone microtube.

It offers convenience, flexibility and saves time for healthcare professionals, while  patients can enjoy greater comfort as it can be easily woven into a glove which can be worn by doctors to track the vital signs of patients in real-time.

Patients suffering from atherosclerosis, which is the thickening and stiffening of the arteries caused by the accumulation of fatty streaks can be benefitted from the microfibre sensor.  The major clinical use of the sensor includes the management of venous ulcers, which are caused by poor blood circulation.

This sensor can be used to detect plaque before it accumulates to a size big enough to block or burst the blood vessel.

Ultra-thin and highly flexible microfibre sensor can be easily woven into bandages to monitor the pressure that is being delivered and maintained.

This helps to enhance the effectiveness of the treatment and reduce the time required for healing. In future, patients could also track the bandage pressure using an app, and the information could be shared with doctors who could remotely monitor the progress of the treatment.

The microfibre sensor is highly versatile, and could potentially be used for a wide range of applications, including healthcare monitoring, smart medical prosthetic devices and artificial skins.