This column presents technologies that have applications in commercial areas, possibly creating the products of tomorrow. To learn more about each technology, see the contact information provided for that innovation.
Smartwatch Tracks Medication Levels
UCLA researchers demonstrated that drug levels inside the body can be tracked in real time using a custom smartwatch that analyzes the chemicals found in sweat. The new wearable tracks the profile of medication inside the body continuously and noninvasively, tailoring the optimal dosage and timing of the intake for each individual. The smartwatch is equipped with a sensor that analyzes sampled tiny droplets of sweat. As different drugs each have their own unique electrochemical signature, the sensor can be designed to look for the level of a particular medication at any given time. The technology could be adapted to monitor medication adherence and drug abuse. It could be particularly important for individuals with mental health issues, for which doctors prescribe prolonged pharmacotherapy treatments.
Contact: Sam Emaminejad;
Flexible, Wearable Micro LEDs
University of Texas at Dallas researchers developed a method to create micro LEDs that can be folded, twisted, cut, and stuck to different surfaces. The flexible micro LED was made through a technique called remote epitaxy that involves growing a thin layer of LED crystals on the surface of a sapphire crystal wafer, or substrate. Typically, the LED would remain on the wafer. To make it detachable, researchers added a nonstick layer to the substrate, which acts similarly to the way parchment paper protects a baking sheet and allows for the easy removal of cookies, for instance. The bendable LEDs have a variety of possible uses such as flexible lighting, clothing, and wearable biomedical devices. Because the LED can be removed without breaking the underlying wafer substrate, the wafer can be used repeatedly.
Contact: Kim Horner;
NASA’s Johnson Space Center developed the Micro-Organ Device platform that serves as a drug-screening system with human or animal cell micro-organs to supplement and reduce animal experimentation, while increasing the success of clinical drug trials. The platform technology could host life-like miniature assemblies of human cells, and the effects observed in tests performed could be extrapolated more readily to humans than the effects observed in conventional in-vitro cell cultures, making it possible to reduce or eliminate experiments on animals. The automated technology has a minimal footprint and power requirements, high throughput, and parallel analyses on the same chip.