For diabetics, spectroscopy may replace painful pinpricks

Oct 25, 2011

Part of managing diabetes involves piercing a finger several times daily to monitor blood sugar levels. Raman spectroscopy could let diabetics monitor glucose without those daily pinpricks. In the past, this would have required a tabletop's worth of equipment. Two former graduate students at MIT's George R. Harrison Spectroscopy Laboratory, Chae-Ryon Kong and Ishan Barman, detail in the AIP's journal AIP Advances how to potentially reduce the overall size of this sensor by making an important part of this equipment smaller.

Their Raman spectrograph works by shining a low-powered laser though the thin fold of skin between the thumb and forefinger. As the laser's photons move through the skin, they strike the vibrating molecules around them. A portion of these photons interact with the vibrating molecules in ways that change their . This is called Raman scattering.

Each type of molecule produces a unique set of energy levels that show up as a spectrum and identify the molecule. Unfortunately, less than one out of one million photons undergoes Raman scattering. So it is important to capture as many scattered photons as possible, then filter out everything but the Raman photons. Optical filters can do this, but they are only effective when the hit them within a narrow range of angles. Previous researchers have used a compound parabolic concentrator (CPC) for this purpose, yet it takes a very large CPC to achieve the high degree of collimation needed.

Kong and Barman turned to a more compact mirror, a compound hyperbolic concentrator (CHC), which uses a lens to focus light into the necessary tight beam. "The new design is from five to 20 times smaller than if we used a CPC to achieve the same performance," Kong said. This development is the first step toward making portable possible. According to Ramachandra Dasari, the lab's associate director, such portable Raman spectrographs could also be used to identify other blood of disease, and to determine if biopsies contain cancerous tissue. The corresponding tests would take about one minute. The current prototype is the size of a shopping cart. "Our next step is to miniaturize this and make it portable," he said. Dasari expects to build a portable prototype over the next couple of years.

Explore further: Sensitive detection method may help impede illicit nuclear trafficking

More information: "A novel non-imaging optics based Raman spectroscopy device for transdermal blood analyte measurement" by Chae-Ryon Kong et al., is published in AIP Advances.

Provided by American Institute of Physics

4.7 /5 (3 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New device for patients to monitor blood glucose levels

Aug 09, 2010

People with type 1 diabetes must keep a careful eye on their blood glucose levels: Too much sugar can damage organs, while too little deprives the body of necessary fuel. Most patients must prick their fingers ...

Mass weddings -- NIST's new efficient 2-photon source

Apr 12, 2007

For a variety of applications in physics and technology, ranging from quantum information theory to telecommunications, it’s handy to have access to pairs of photons created simultaneously, with a chosen ...

Shedding new light on cancer

Jan 22, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Researchers at the University of St Andrews have developed a powerful technique that could allow earlier cancer detection.

Recommended for you

Device turns flat surface into spherical antenna

Apr 14, 2014

By depositing an array of tiny, metallic, U-shaped structures onto a dielectric material, a team of researchers in China has created a new artificial surface that can bend and focus electromagnetic waves ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

CERN: World-record current in a superconductor

In the framework of the High-Luminosity LHC project, experts from the CERN Superconductors team recently obtained a world-record current of 20 kA at 24 K in an electrical transmission line consisting of two ...

Glasses strong as steel: A fast way to find the best

Scientists at Yale University have devised a dramatically faster way of identifying and characterizing complex alloys known as bulk metallic glasses (BMGs), a versatile type of pliable glass that's stronger than steel.

Patent talk: Google sharpens contact lens vision

(Phys.org) —A report from Patent Bolt brings us one step closer to what Google may have in mind in developing smart contact lenses. According to the discussion Google is interested in the concept of contact ...

Tech giants look to skies to spread Internet

The shortest path to the Internet for some remote corners of the world may be through the skies. That is the message from US tech giants seeking to spread the online gospel to hard-to-reach regions.

Wireless industry makes anti-theft commitment

A trade group for wireless providers said Tuesday that the biggest mobile device manufacturers and carriers will soon put anti-theft tools on the gadgets to try to deter rampant smartphone theft.