Since the discovery of graphene, this two-dimensional material has fascinated material scientists and other researchers from a variety of disciplines with its amazing strength and versatility. As the number of applications grows, graphene is making its way into the medical field—specifically for sensors.
Earlier this year, researchers at Rutgers University-New Brunswick made a new kind of graphene-based sensor that can detect asthma attacks sooner and can also help with managing asthma along with other respiratory conditions. With this new innovation, devices akin to fitness trackers can be developed to help users to remember when to take their medication, and at the correct dosage.
This technology is important for the millions of people (over 300 million worldwide) who suffer from asthma, which causes the inflammation and narrowing of airways as well as excess mucus production. Other respiratory ailments that could be impacted by this invention include COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), chronic bronchitis, and emphysema.
How this sensor works is by using reduced graphene oxide for the detection of biomarkers–specifically to measure the levels of nitrite in the condensation of an exhalation. Compared to other diagnostic and monitoring methods, such as spirometry (which measures exhaled nitric oxide as well as breathing capacity), this graphene-based electrochemical sensor is much less invasive, is built on a smaller scale, and is much more cost-effective.
Nitrite and nitric oxide are both biomarkers that can indicate airway inflammation, and by monitoring them through a sensor, more real-time data can be made accessible. Users can then help to prevent an asthma attack or modify their daily activities (e.g., exercising outside). Instead of just looking at symptoms such as shortness of breath, coughing, or wheezing, the monitoring of nitrite can give a more accurate picture of how a patient is doing at any given time. Researchers hope that within the next five years, a wearable device would be available and that more inflammation biomarkers would be detected from such a device.
Sensors like the ones developed at Rutgers can be formed with graphene sheets from Grolltex, a San Diego-based advanced materials and equipment company. Our patented process provides high quality graphene at more economical price points. As more uses for graphene arise and its use becomes more commonplace, it’s important to find a manufacturer that can give you the best of both worlds: great quality at a great price. Whether you’re a researcher, an inventor, or a manufacturer, you should consider Grolltex for your graphene needs. Contact us today to learn more about our products and services.