MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Andrea M Armani PhD
Fluor Early Career Chair and Associate Professor
Mork Family Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science
University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: The “Internet of Things” (IoT) has seen an explosion in online sensor technologies, including UV sensors and monitors; for example, those from Apple and Samsung. However, they require connectivity and power, and they are integrated into delicate electronic systems that are not compatible with outdoor, athletic activities such as swimming, which is precisely when you should monitor UV exposure. Therefore, somewhat ironically, the technologies developed to meet the demands of the IoT are not ideal for cumulative UV exposure detection.
Our goal was to develop a single use patch – like a smart “band-aid” – for the beach to alert users when they had been in the sun for an hour and needed to re-apply sunscreen or get out of the sun altogether. This application required a rugged system that was waterproof, bendable, and compatible with sunscreen. Additionally, the sensor readout needed to be easy to interpret. These requirements influenced our design and material selection.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: We made a flexible, waterproof plastic patch that changes color when exposed to UV light, which is the harmful or cancer-causing part of sunlight. The patch has a sandwich-like structure. The middle layer is the color-changing UV responsive smart material, and the transparent top and bottom layers provide mechanical support as well as waterproofing. The patch is initially clear, and the longer that the patch is in the sun, the more the color changes. After about 15 minutes, it begins to turn orange, and after an hour, it is dark orange. We verified that meets all of our initial requirements with regards to usability.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: We developed an easy-to-use and realistic technology that is ideally suited for UV monitoring. The simple read-out (color-change) mechanism will make the technology much more accessible to society because, from a broad adoption perspective, it is hard to remember numbers (max recommended UV dose/day), but it is easy to remember a color. Additionally, it has already been verified to work over the World Health Organization recommended dose ranges. However, we can tune the response (also shown in the report).
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Response: We are actively investigating developing new materials which will allow different colors as well as alternative packaging or trilayer structures to make the system more attractive to people.
MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.
Michele E. Lee, Andrea M. Armani. Flexible UV Exposure Sensor Based on UV Responsive Polymer. ACS Sensors, 2016; DOI: 10.1021/acssensors.6b00491
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