Flexible electronic sensor patch tracks vitamin C and other nutrients via sweat

May 28, 2020

To gauge a person’s vitamin C levels – vitamin C supports the immune system and notably helps with wound healing – scientists from the University of California-San Diego (UCSD), US, have developed a thin, flexible, stretchable skin patch which generates an electric current in accordance with the user’s sweat. The strength of the electric current corresponds to vitamin C levels in the bloodstream as well.

The prototype electronic patch incorporates flexible electrodes and an enzyme known as ascorbate oxidase: upon contact, the ascorbate oxidase will convert vitamin C present in sweat into dehydroascorbic acid. The quick process generates an electrical current and the recorded data can be wirelessly transmitted for further analysis.

In lab tests, the UCSD scientists saw that the patch was accurately able to track the changing vitamin C levels in four test subjects over a two-hour period. It was also effective at detectingvitamin C in their tears and saliva (the subjects had consumed vitamin C supplements and vitamin C-rich fruit juices).

The prototype could likely be adapted to sense additional compounds in the skin – UCSD postdoctoral student, Juliane Sempionatto, agrees that the patch “could track not just vitamin C, but other nutrients – a multivitamin patch, if you will.”

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