Smart Threads Monitor Health in Real Time


Advances in the miniaturization of sensors and the fabrication of smart materials has changed the landscape of health care by enabling the development of implantable diagnostic instruments and wearable health-monitoring systems. These smart materials, however, are two-dimensional. And, although some are able to wrap around organs, they cannot penetrate multiple layers of tissue, which would be beneficial in several applications, such as delivering fluids to or from different parts of the same tissue.

A team led by engineers at Tufts Univ. has integrated nanoscale sensors, electronics, and microfluidics into threads that can be sutured through multiple layers of tissue to gather diagnostic data wirelessly in real time. The researchers think the threads could serve as an effective substrate for the next generation of implantable diagnostics and smart wearable materials.

“The ability to suture a thread-based diagnostic device intimately in a tissue or organ environment in three dimensions adds a unique feature that is not available with other flexible diagnostic platforms,” says Sameer Sonkusale, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Tufts Univ. “We think thread-based systems could be used as smart sutures for surgical implants, smart...

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