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A smart, portable and miniaturized system that can analyze sweat by EPFL

05.12.17 – EPFL researchers have teamed up with startup Xsensio to develop a tiny, fully portable system that can encapsulate and analyze biomarkers in a person’s sweat. The low-power system, which fits on a chip measuring under 1 cm², was presented this week at theInternational Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM) in San Francisco.

The miniature chip was developed by researchers at EPFL’s Nanoelectronic Devices Laboratory (Nanolab), headed by Professor Adrian Ionescu, working in association with startup Xsensio. Their system can be placed directly on a person’s skin or integrated into a bracelet. It analyzes specific biomarkers contained in sweat to give valuable insight into the wearer’s health. It can determine the sodium and potassium concentrations in the person’s sweat, for example, and measure their body temperature and pH. The data thus collected can be sent directly to a smartphone. The system was presented at the 63rd International Electron Devices Meeting in San Francisco – a flagship industry event bringing together key figures from all over the world involved in the business or academic side of micro- and nanotechnology.

Collecting, encapsulating and analyzing sweat – all on a single chip

The system uses capillary action to “pump” miniscule amounts of sweat into the heart of the chip, where it is analyzed. The chip contains four silicon sensors that are only around 20 nanometers thick, making them extremely sensitive. Each sensor is coated with a different material so that they can each detect different biomarkers. “Our platform is truly modular. By depositing different biochemical layers on each of the miniature sensors, we can measure a host of variables ranging from electrolytes and metabolites to tiny molecules and proteins. That gives users personalized real-time data,” says Esmeralda Megally, CEO of Xsensio.

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