Exciting change is on the way! Please join us at nsf.gov for the latest news on NSF-funded research. While the NSF Science360 page and daily newsletter have now been retired, there’s much happening at nsf.gov. You’ll find current research news on the homepage and much more to explore throughout the site. Best of all, we’ve begun to build a brand-new website that will bring together news, social media, multimedia and more in a way that offers visitors a rich, rewarding, user-friendly experience.

Want to continue to receive email updates on the latest NSF research news and multimedia content? On September 23rd we’ll begin sending those updates via GovDelivery. If you’d prefer not to receive them, please unsubscribe now from Science360 News and your email address will not be moved into the new system.

Thanks so much for being part of the NSF Science360 News Service community. We hope you’ll stay with us during this transition so that we can continue to share the many ways NSF-funded research is advancing knowledge that transforms our future.

For additional information, please contact us at NewsTravels@nsf.gov

Top Story

Tiny injectable sensor could provide unobtrusive alcohol monitoring

Engineers at the University of California, San Diego, have developed a miniature, ultra-low power, injectable biosensor that could be used for continuous, long-term alcohol monitoring. The chip is small enough to be implanted in the body just beneath the surface of the skin and is powered wirelessly by a wearable device, such as a smartwatch or patch. One of the challenges for patients in treatment programs is the lack of convenient tools for routine monitoring. Breathalyzers, currently the most common way to estimate blood alcohol levels, are clunky devices that require patient initiation and are not that accurate. A blood test is the most accurate method, but it needs to be performed by a trained technician. Tattoo-based alcohol sensors that can be worn on the skin are a promising new alternative, but they can be easily removed and are only single-use. A tiny injectable sensor -- that can be administered in a clinic without surgery -- could make it easier for patients to follow a prescribed course of monitoring for extended periods of time. The biosensor chip measures roughly 1 cubic millimeter in size and can be injected under the skin in interstitial fluid -- the fluid that surrounds the body's cells. It contains a sensor that is coated with alcohol oxidase, an enzyme that selectively interacts with alcohol to generate a byproduct that can be electrochemically detected. The electrical signals are transmitted wirelessly to a nearby wearable device such as a smartwatch, which also wirelessly powers the chip. Two additional sensors on the chip measure background signals and pH levels. These get canceled out to make the alcohol reading more accurate.

Visit Website | Image credit: David Baillot/UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering