New sensor could pave the way for urine-analyzing diapers
Urine analysis may indeed be a valuable source of information on a patient's health, but arranging for samples to be taken and analyzed can be time-consuming. A new sensor could help, by allowing diapers to do the job on an ongoing basis.
The technology is being developed by Xi Xie and Hui-Jiun Chen, both from China's Sun Yat-Sen University.
It's a flexible device that's about the size of a US quarter, and it incorporates an array of five different electrodes – these are connected to a circuit board equipped with a Bluetooth module and a lithium-ion battery. The electrodes are respectively able to detect potassium ions, sodium ions, hydrogen peroxide, uric acid and glucose, all of which are biomarkers associated with various conditions.
When the sensor was tested on urine samples obtained from three volunteers, it was found to perform at the same standard as a traditional commercial analysis system. Paper test strips, which are another alternative, weren't as sensitive.
The array continued to function well when it was integrated into an adult diaper, to which urine was added. The scientists believe that in a real-world scenario – wherein a diaper would start out dry then gradually get saturated – the sensor would have to take multiple readings in order to gather accurate data.
That said, the data could then be instantly accessed simply by holding a Bluetooth-connected smartphone or tablet beside the patient's bed. No urine collection or lab analysis would be necessary.
A paper on the research was recently published in the journal ACS Applied Nano Materials.