Adhesive-backed Wearable Sensor Helps Detect Drugs in Wearers’ Sweat

Posted on 3/30/2021 8:31:12 AM By GlobalSpec 360

Using nanotechnology, surface-enhanced Raman scattering, and a laser, researchers at South Korean universities have developed a wearable adhesive-backed optical sensor capable of detecting the presence of illegal drugs in the wearer’s sweat.

The developers report that the adhesive sensor is able to show signs of these drugs in the sweat in less than one minute, and with less chance of ethical boundaries being crossed, when compared to the traditional blood and urine tests which are delayed by lab testing, and can be ethically compromised by supervision during sample gathering. 

The optical sensor, according to the research team, is comprised of a 160nm thick film of silk fibroin protein extracted from a silkwood cocoon, and is coated with 250nm thick silver nanowire before it is bonded to an adhesive medical-grade patch which, in turn, adheres to the skin.

The researchers report that the patch immediately absorbs and retains the wearer’s sweat on contact with the skin. However, any drug or chemical substance in the sweat penetrates the sensor and reaches the silver nanowire. Signals of the presence of any illegal drugs, enhanced  1010  by the use of surface-enhanced Raman scattering, will be revealed when the patch is irradiated using a Raman laser.