A Smart Mask That’s Breathable

By Aaryaa Padhyegurjar

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The idea of putting bioelectronics into a breathable face mask that can monitor a user’s physiological state depending on the features of their cough has been put into practice by a research team at the University of Missouri College of Engineering.

An infrared image of a person wearing a smart mask concept. Image Credit: University of Missouri.

According to Zheng Yan, Assistant Professor in the College of Engineering at the University of Missouri, laser-assisted manufacturing, which has been employed by researchers for ten years, may still be useful in the production of wearable bioelectronics. He claims that the idea for this unique concept came to him and his colleagues naturally. Their research was published in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Nano.

“Laser-assisted fabrication is simple, scalable, cost-effective, and easily customizable. This can lower the cost of wearable electronics and benefit both their practical, one-time use and personalization by providing customized devices for health care applications,” said Professor Yan.

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Recently, his team looked at the viability of using the metallic conductor known as MoO2. “It exhibits high electrical conductivity, chemical stability, MRI-compatibility, and biocompatibility, which is well suitable for construction of various bioelectronic sensors and stimulators,” Professor Yan explains. These findings have been published in Science Advances, a publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

“Monitoring a person’s breathing rhythm will be useful for diagnosis of some diseases, such as sleep apnea. Also, we could concurrently monitor the heart rate, heart rate variation, and electroencephalograms to provide more comprehensive information for the study of sleep apnea,” says Professor Yan.

Professor Yan has documented these results and published two studies demonstrating various ways to enhance wearable bioelectronic devices and materials that can provide better real-time monitoring of a person’s health, including vital signs.

Click here and here to access the papers published in ACS Nano and Science Advances respectively.


 

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