Passively Powered Non-invasive Human Body Sensing on Bio-Degradable Conformal Substrates

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Electrical and Electronic Engineering

Abstract

Over the last decade excellent non-invasive sensing platforms have become available for capturing real-time health and lifestyle data, with the fitbit and Apple Watch being well known examples. However, current 'wearable' sensors all have major limitations: they connect to the body using straps and similar which do not maintain a good connection over long time periods; they have high power consumptions meaning the device must be taken off and recharged, at best, every couple of days; they contribute a significant amount to electronic waste. They are thus far from realising their true potential. This challenge is recognised by the EPSRC, with 'Disruptive technologies for sensing & analysis' being a core part of the 2015 Healthcare Technologies strategy. We propose to tackle this challenge by advancing novel material manufacturing approaches to realise next generation 'conformal' sensor nodes. This will make a disruptive next generation sensor platform for the very long term monitoring of a number of body parameters (motion, electrophysiological and temperature data) which is very different to current bio-sensing approaches.

Our novel manufacturing will enable sensors which are:
- Mounted on a conformal substrate, attaching directly to the skin without a strap, and maintaining contact for several days at a time.
- Manufactured using inkjet printing to allow minimal waste and responsive manufacturing, potentially tailoring each sensor to each person. Graphene nanoparticle based inks will replace current silver nanoparticle inks which, due to the inert nature of graphene, avoids the electronic waste issues associated with silver inks.
- Tailored with new ink and substrate formulations so that both the graphene ink and conformal substrate are 'transient'. That is, they work for a period of time and then naturally decompose into safe, inert and easily removed components, enabling easy use and disposal.
- 3D in nature by using 'popup' structures manufactured on pre-stressed substrates. This will allow 'actuated antennas', coupling the mechanical and electromagnetic properties of a 3D antenna in order to allow simultaneous sensing and transmission using the antenna component, significantly reducing the device size as conventional instrumentation can be removed.
- Ultra low power using a novel switching strategy to allow secure digital transmission over an RFID wireless link without the need for a dedicated, high power, analogue-to-digital converter microchip.
- Increased in wireless powering range, by devising reduced size epidermal antennas that exploit magnetically coupled loops in tattoo antennas with under 3 times the surface area of current approaches, reducing ink use for digital fabrication.
- Optimized for robustness to motion interference, allowing the collection of high quality signals in real-world, out-of-the-lab situations.
- Suitable for scale-up manufacturing with roll-to-roll and/or sheet fed printing of key elements, integrating with pick and place capabilities.
- Integrated into initial complete system demonstrators which will be showcased to our partners, covering the use of long term sensor nodes with people who are elderly and with children.

Collectively these represent a step change beyond 'wearable' devices available today. Our new sensors will be customisable battery-less RFID tags that can operate more than a metre from a powered reader, stay attached for many days at a time, and with a controlled lifetime set by the transient nature of the manufacturing. At this early stage we do not propose to target any one clinical application area, but rather to make the next generation of technologies for conformal on-body sensor nodes that collect longitudinal information relevant to a number of disease areas. We will work with our partners through pathways to impact activities to maximise the possibility of exposure to relevant end users in healthcare scenarios.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description InnovateUK ElecTech roadmap
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
URL https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/electech-sector-a-roadmap-for-the-uk
 
Description MultiSense - Devising and Manufacturing mm-Wave High Data Rate Low Latency On-Skin Technologies
Amount £617,630 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/S020179/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2019 
End 09/2022
 
Description University of Manchester - University of Toronto collaboration fund
Amount £10,000 (GBP)
Organisation University of Manchester 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2019 
End 12/2019
 
Description University of Manchester Research Institute
Amount £34,000 (GBP)
Organisation University of Manchester 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2018 
End 07/2018
 
Description University of Toronto flexible and 3D printed sensors 
Organisation University of Toronto
Country Canada 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Expertise in sensing and in health and wellness applications of wearable devices. Data science/machine learning based analysis of materials characterization data
Collaborator Contribution Printed flexible sensors, particularly for pressure. Flexible batteries for powering flexible wearables
Impact None yet. Papers are in preparation.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Chair of the IET Healthcare Technologies network, September 2019. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Chair of the IET Healthcare Technologies network, September 2019 onwards.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019,2020
 
Description Contributor to InnovateUK "ElecTech" roadmap for the UK electronics industry. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Contributions on "bioelectronics" to the Innovate UK roadmap for the electronics area.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Documentary for BBC Arabic 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Research on inkjet printing onto flexible temporary tattoo-like substrates featured in a documentary by BBC Arabic on the Henry Royce Institute for advanced materials, March 2019.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyICksIUH7Q&list=PLAGY-m4eNA4Y9oPOUptBU1goWgI7SehqM&index=9
 
Description Heart-rate sensing Graphene demo, International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) technical committee 119 (printed electronics), UK. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Heart-rate sensing Graphene demo, International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) technical committee 119 (printed electronics), UK. Follow up event to be help in May 2018. Demo specifically highlighted in event feedback as showing the breadth and depth of sensors research in Manchester.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018
 
Description Industry showcase on bioelectronics 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Organisers of an industry showcase showcasing strengths in bioelectronics research (including our own) across the University of Manchester, April 2019.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Interviewed as of the University of Manchester MSc on public health highlighting new developments in wearable devices, September 2019. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Interviewed as of the University of Manchester MSc on public health highlighting new developments in wearable devices, September 2019.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019,2020
 
Description Invited presentation at the IET "IoT in Healthcare" meeting, Liverpool UK, November 2019. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Invited presentation at the IET "IoT in Healthcare" meeting, Liverpool UK, November 2019.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Invited presentation at UKRI Materials Research Exchange on "Accelerating adoption of new materials into applications" led by KCMC and CPI , February 2020. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Invited presentation at UKRI Materials Research Exchange on "Accelerating adoption of new materials into applications" led by KCMC and CPI , February 2020.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Invited presentation at the IEEE UK Circuits and Systems society meeting (IEEE UKCAS), London UK, December 2019. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited presentation at the IEEE UK Circuits and Systems society meeting (IEEE UKCAS), London UK, December 2019.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Invited presentation at the University of Liverpool Department of Electrical Engineering and Electronics, February 2020. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Invited presentation at the University of Liverpool Department of Electrical Engineering and Electronics, February 2020.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Invited presentation at the University of Toronto, September 2019. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Invited presentation at the University of Toronto, September 2019.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Invited presentation on wearable signal processing at the University of Surrey, May 2019. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Invited presentation on wearable signal processing at the University of Surrey, May 2019.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Invited presentation to IBM Research in Yorktown USA 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited presentation to IBM Research in Yorktown USA, June 2017. Focus was on our "wearable clinic" work.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Invited presentation to the Army Research Laboratory 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited presentation to the Army Research Laboratory. Specifically invited based upon our EPSRC funded work.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Invited presentation to the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health "Digital Health domain" on wearable devices, May 2019. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited presentation to the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health "Digital Health domain" on wearable devices, May 2019.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Invited special session presentation at the 2019 IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society conference in Germany, July 2019. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited special session presentation at the 2019 IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society conference in Germany, July 2019.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Leader of a Royal Institution Engineering masterclass - an computer science outreach event for 14 year olds focusing on computer architecture 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Dr Alex Casson lead a Royal Institution Engineering masterclass - an computer science outreach event for 14 year olds focusing on computer architecture, July 2017.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Part of a panel discussion on healthcare innovation for the Manchester Innovation Forum, August 2019. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Part of a panel discussion on healthcare innovation for the Manchester Innovation Forum, August 2019.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Presentation on nanoelectronics to year 12 students as part of an outreach event organised by the NanoWoW Centre for Doctorial Training, December 2019. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Presentation on nanoelectronics to year 12 students as part of an outreach event organised by the NanoWoW Centre for Doctorial Training, December 2019.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Presentation to Antennas group, University of Kent 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Discussion on future collaborations, particularly with a visiting researcher from Japan.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Presentation to Bioelectronics researchers, University of Toronto, Canada. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Resulted in seed funding to form an international collaboration.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Presentation to EEG research group, Fudan University, China. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Discussions of potential collaboration opportunities
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Presentation to IEC working group 119 (printed electronics) and 124 (wearable electronics), Manchester, UK. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Presentation on printed electronics at the University of Manchester for the IEC standards committee. Input into shaping future standards for wearable devices, with a follow on conference to be held in Manchester in 2020 as a result of this.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Primary schools engagement events on "paper circuits" 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Science outreach events on "paper circuits" showing how simple electronics can be made flexible.

Run at 2 schools in the local area, for years groups from 2 -6 each time.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Public engagement presentation as part of the Pint of Science festival, May 2019. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Public engagement presentation as part of the Pint of Science festival, May 2019.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description ScienceX 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Science outreach events on "paper circuits" showing how simple electronics can be made flexible.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Table top demo at the "Clean air for Manchester" launch event, showing our work on wearable devices, September 2019. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Table top demo at the "Clean air for Manchester" launch event, showing our work on wearable devices, September 2019.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description University of Manchester Community festival - Flash bang show 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The Community Festival is an opportunity for members of the public & local community to visit the university campus & gain an insight into the research carried out. There is a variety of research presentations: from high tech equipment, hands on activities for all ages & presentations/demonstration lectures to introduce what we do to the public in an accessible manner.
This submission pertains to presentation of "The Flash Bang Show"; an hour long lecture of practical demonstrations designed to generate interest in chemistry & STEM subjects with the general public whilst linking these demonstrations to underpinning scientific theory. The audience numbered Approximately 250 people, of whom approximately 100 were children. A significant proportion of the audience answered prompt questions designed to engage them with the subject matter. A minimum of 50 people remained after the lecture to ask questions about what they had seen & how to they could learn more about/take up a career in this area.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.mub.eps.manchester.ac.uk/uomchemistryblog/2020/01/outreach-community-festival/