Tongue depressors are commonly used by doctors as a prop to examine a patient’s oral cavity and throat. But supposing the flat wooden spatula also served as a diagnostic tool? The concept behind a disposable, environmentally friendly sensor to measure glucose and other indicators in saliva was published in Analytical Chemistry by the American Chemical Society. The simple-to-manufacture technology, according to the study’s authors, could one-day aid doctors in diagnosing a wide variety of illnesses.
Researchers who create electronics and sensors appreciate wood because it is a renewable, biodegradable, natural material that is readily available at a reasonable cost. The material’s poor ability to conduct electricity, however, makes this difficult. One option is to coat the wood with metals and carbon-based inks to make it an inert substrate. Alternatively, conductive graphite can be created by charring small areas of wood with a high-powered laser.
Tongue Scanner with Vital Signs Monitor Is Environmentally
However, this laborious method calls for high-priced, state-of-the-art instruments, an oxygen-free environment, and flame suppressants. Low-power diode lasers had previously been effectively used to create polyimide-based sensors, but had not been applied to wooden electronics and electrochemical sensors, so Christos Kokkinos and colleagues turned to them to design a cheaper and easier technique.
The group utilized a cheap and portable laser engraver to etch a pattern of conductive graphite electrodes onto a wooden tongue depressor. Water-repellent permanent marker lines divided the electrodes into two electrochemical cells. The amounts of nitrite and glucose in synthetic saliva were then quickly and simultaneously measured using the biosensor. While glucose can be used to diagnose diabetes, nitrite can reveal the presence of oral diseases like periodontitis. These inexpensive devices, according to the study authors, would be simple to manufacture in hospitals and could be modified to detect various saliva biomarkers.