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I-Corps: Smart Surface Sensors

Nigel Reuel
Iowa State University
Start date
End date
The broader impact/commercial potential of this I-Corps project is to improve food and health product safety in the US. This can reduce the economic burden associated with disease and infection caused by bacteria on surfaces. The proposed technology can be used to determine adherence to cleaning protocols that are used to keep food and healthcare facilities safe. It can also be used to help monitor chronic wounds, thus reducing the number of clinical visits for routine status check-ups. The ability to conduct real time measurement of biofilms in a closed environment is currently unavailable in the market. This technology can potentially impact food safety and also health care markets.

This I-Corps project will further develop a wireless sensor platform technology that is proposed for use in monitoring growth of biofilms or fluid build-up in closed systems such as bandages or on surfaces such as food preparation areas or healthcare counters. The sensor is a platform technology that consists of a flexible sensor, a reader, and algorithm to translate the wireless signal. The sensor is a planar, Archimedean coil that is an open circuit inductor capacitor that forms a resonant structure. It can be placed on or in surface materials or bandages. As cells or a biofilm grow on the surface of the resonator, this changes the local dielectric and a large shift in the resonant frequency is observed. This can be sampled wirelessly using a vector network analyzer.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
Funding Source
United States Nat'l. Science Fndn.
Project source
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Project number
Bacterial Pathogens
Food Preparation and Handling
Natural Toxins
Viruses and Prions
Chemical Contaminants