Mechatronic Systems Engineering

Mechatronics professor receives grant to create flexible, printed e-Health sensors

June 10, 2015

SFU mechatronics assistant professor Woo Soo Kim will explore new ways to create flexible, stretchable mechanical sensors for biomedical applications with a recently announced $306,000 grant from the NSERC Collaborative Research and Development Project and NTS Research.

The three-year project, titled “Development of printed attachable e-Health sensors by homogeneous spray of nano ink materials,” will build upon Kim’s already pioneering work in printable sensor technology.

By printing radio-frequency identification (RFID) electrodes directly onto stretchable electrode materials, Kim hopes to create cost-effective, highly sensitive sensors that move with the human body.

Unlike traditional electrochemical sensors that communicate using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, the proposed ultra-thin RFID electrodes use electromagnetic fields to transfer sensor data wirelessly without a battery.

 “Conventional sensors do not guarantee optimal skin contact or easy detachability and they can be bulky,” says Kim, who has been developing stretchable printed sensors at SFU for five years.

“Our sensors will provide conformal contact with human skin, and can be worn for extended periods of time while people perform their daily activities.”

By minimizing the amount of functional inks and printed films required in the manufacturing process, professor Kim’s proposed sensors will improve manufacturing scalability, enhance performance and reduce production cost.

Initially, B.C.-based health care company NTS Research will use the sensors to monitor the effects of a calcium supplement to increase bone mineral density in patients with osteoporosis.

“The sensors monitor the human body’s electrical energy source, such as the calcium ion content in perspiration,” says Kim.

“The data collected can help speed up diagnosis and help researchers develop more effective treatments for people with chronic diseases.”