Engineers have developed a new simple tool that can help you build a sensor anywhere.
The invention may open a new window to the world of inexpensive sensors for personalised used at clinics, offices and homes.
The team from the University of California, San Diego, developed high-tech bio-inks that react with several chemicals, including glucose.
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They filled ballpoint pens with the inks and were able to draw sensors to measure glucose directly on the skin and sensors to measure pollution on leaves.
"Our new biocatalytic pen technology, based on novel enzymatic inks, holds considerable promise for a broad range of applications on site and in the field," said Joseph Wang, who led the research team.
Sensors can also be drawn directly on smartphones for personalised health monitoring or on external building walls for monitoring of toxic gas pollutants, researchers said.
The sensors also could be used on the battlefield to detect explosives and nerve agents.
Researchers estimate that one pen contains enough ink to draw the equivalent of 500 high-fidelity glucose sensor strips.
The engineers also demonstrated that the sensors could be drawn directly on the skin and that they could communicate with a bluetooth-enabled electronic device to gather data.
The pens would also allow users to draw sensors that detect pollutants and potentially harmful chemicals sensors on the spot.
The findings were published in Advanced Healthcare Materials.