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Medical Product Manufacturing News, March/April 2015

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q m e d . c o m / m p m n M e d i c a l P r o d u c t M a n u f a c t u r i n g n e w s M a r c h / a P r i l 2 0 1 5 7 researchers from the university of rochester in new York have taken a significant step in developing hydrophobic materials, with a new technique that enables them to transform metals into extremely water repellent materials, all without the need for temporary coatings. super-hydrophobic materials have become increasingly desirable for a number of different applications, such as rust prevention and anti- icing. within medtech, hydrophobic materials are of interest for woundcare applications, surgical tools, and for protecting electronics exposed to moisture. however, most current hydrophobic materials rely on chemical coatings. that is, until scientists at the university of rochester developed a technique that creates intricate patterns of micro- and nanoscale structures to give metals a hydrophobic property, according to a news release from the university. the powerful and precise laser- pattern technique was built off of earlier research that the team performed involving the use of a similar laser-pattern technique that turned metals black. chunlei guo and his colleague at the university's institute of optics, anatoliy Vorobyev, believe that using this technique will enable them to create multifunctional surfaces that are not only superhydrophobic but also high- absorbent optically. understanding the significance of hydrophobic surfaces and the benefits that lie within are crucial to exploring the potential advantages and applications of such surfaces. Just last year, a hydrophobic light-activated surgical adhesive was created that could help seal wounds and wet tissue without being compromised by exposure to blood. of course, the most significant thing about the new laser technique being developed in rochester is that the hydrophobic structures created by the laser become an intrinsic part of the metal surface, meaning they won't rub off. researchers say that the materials created using the laser are so water- repellent that the water actually bounces off of the surface before eventually settling and rolling off. they even compared their surfaces to teflon, a common hydrophobic material used on nonstick frying pans. teflon kitchen tools are not superhydrophobic, since they require that the surface be tilted at about a 70° angle before water begins to roll off. Meanwhile the surfaces created by the team's new laser-pattern technique can make water roll off when an object is tilted at only a 5° angle. Before the team can really explore the potential applications of these super-hydrophobic materials, they still have a few obstacles to clear. currently, it takes the laser an hour to pattern a 1 × 1 in. metal sample, a process that is too time-consuming to have much of an impact on major surfaces. researchers are also exploring ways of applying the technique to nonmetal materials in an effort to broaden its potential applications. the research team believes that focusing on techniques such as this can give rise to multifunctional metals. exploring the idea of hydrophobic surfaces on such nonmetal materials as semiconductors or dielectrics could pave the way for transformative technologies such as water-resistant electronics. while these kinds of developments could still be quite a ways down the road, solving these early challenges is an essential part of the equation that could have a lasting impact. —Kristopher sturgis University of Rochester researchers have developed a technique that uses lasers to render materials hydrophobic, as illustrated in this university image of a water droplet bouncing of of a treated sample. as any type-1 diabetic knows, pricking your finger repeatedly for a blood-glucose test is not exactly a fun ordeal. thankfully, researchers are working on an alternative method that will be completely painless and needle-free: a rub-on temporary tattoo. the ultrathin, flexible device was created by Joseph wang and his colleagues at the university of california, san diego in an effort to develop a sensor that could effectively measure glucose levels with the same efficiency as finger- pricking, according to a paper published by the american chemical society. the genesis of the idea was born out of the glucowatch, a wristband that was developed to gently suck glucose through the surface of the skin but was eventually discontinued because the electric current that was used to attract glucose to the surface of the skin was too high and reportedly uncomfortable. researchers designed this tattoo using a gentler but just as effective current. (the idea of a tattoo-based technology to monitor glucose was also explored in 2009 by researchers at draper laboratory, in cambridge, Ma.) the electric current detects glucose through an enzyme that breaks glucose down into oxygen and hydrogen peroxide. the amount of hydrogen peroxide serves as a proxy for blood-glucose levels. researchers hope that this method could serve as a permanent alternative to the painful method of finger pricking, a technique that can discourage people from regularly keeping tabs on their glucose levels. the research is part of an extensive effort aimed at developing noninvasive glucose sensors that rely on optical, ultrasound, spectroscopic, heat, and electrochemical techniques. among all of these techniques, the electrochemical ones—such as this rub-on tattoo—have shown the greatest promise. alternative glucose measuring methods have been popping up in various forms over the last several years as many recognize the intrusive and taxing nature of finger pricking. consider the google and novartis glucose-sensitive contact lenses. last year, researchers at Princeton university developed a laser that can measure glucose levels when directed at a person's palm. they're currently working on scaling down the size of the laser in the hopes of creating a handheld device that is simple and easy to use. after Joseph wang was able to find an alternative method to the glucowatch that is wearable and less irritating, the trick was ensuring that it could detect glucose levels efficiently. Based on integrating glucose extraction and electrochemical biosensing, the platform works by detecting the glucose in the fluid just under the skin. Preliminary test results conducted on seven healthy volunteers showed that it was able to accurately determine glucose levels, making the tattoo one of the first of its kind to achieve successful results in human trials. while a few challenges still remain, such as establishing a reliable electronic backbone for powering the sensor, the initial proof-of-concept demonstrations have provided encouraging results that researchers hope to build upon as they look to create a sustainable glucose monitoring alternative. if successful, it may not be long before we see diabetics rocking ink in a whole new and exciting way. —K.s. Te electric current in the rub-on temporary tattoo detects glucose using an enzyme that breaks glucose down into oxygen and hydrogen peroxide. (Photo courtesy of the UC San Diego Center for Wearable Sensors) Lasers make materials Superhydrophobic Tattoo enables diabetics to Stop pricking Fingers

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