Holographic diagnostics

Jan 22, 2014
‘Smart’ holograms, which are currently being tested to monitor diabetes, and could be used to monitor a wide range of medical and environmental conditions in future, have been developed by researchers.

(Phys.org) —'Smart' holograms, which are currently being tested to monitor diabetes, and could be used to monitor a wide range of medical and environmental conditions in future, have been developed by researchers.

Responsive holograms that change colour in the presence of certain compounds are being developed into portable medical tests and devices, which could be used to monitor such as diabetes, cardiac function, infections, electrolyte or easily and inexpensively.

The 'smart' holograms can be used to test blood, breath, urine, saliva or tear fluid for a wide range of compounds, such as glucose, alcohol, hormones, drugs, or bacteria. When one of these compounds is present, the hologram changes colour, potentially making the monitoring of various conditions as simple as checking the colour of the hologram against a colour gradient. Clinical trials of the holographic sensors to monitor glucose levels and in diabetic patients are currently underway at Addenbrooke's Hospital, part of Cambridge University Hospitals.

The interdisciplinary project by researchers from the University of Cambridge uses a highly absorbent material known as a hydrogel, similar to contact lenses, impregnated with tiny particles of silver. Using a single laser pulse, the silver nanoparticles are formed into three-dimensional holograms of predetermined shapes in a fraction of a second.

When in the presence of certain compounds, the hydrogels either shrink or swell, causing the colour of the hologram to change to any other colour in the entire visible spectrum, the first time that this has been achieved in any hydrogel-based sensor.

A major advantage of the technology is that the holograms can be constructed in a fraction of a second, making the technology highly suitable for mass production. Details of the holographic sensors were recently published in the journal Advanced Optical Materials.

"Currently, a lot of medical testing is performed on large, expensive equipment," said Ali Yetisen, a PhD student in the Department of Chemical Engineering & Biotechnology, who led the research. "While these sorts of inexpensive, portable tests aren't meant to replace a doctor, holograms could enable people to easily monitor their own health, and could be useful for early diagnosis, which is critical for so many conditions."

The holographic sensors produced by the Cambridge team are much faster, easier and cheaper to produce than current technologies – it is estimated that a single sensor would cost just ten pence to make, which would make it particularly useful in the developing world, where the costs of current glucose tests can be prohibitive. The entire sensing process is reversible, and the same sensor may be reused many times, after which it may be easily disposed of.

In addition to the clinical tests currently underway at Addenbrooke's against current state-of-the-art glucose monitoring technology, the researchers are developing a prototype smartphone-based test suitable for both clinical and home testing of diabetes and clinically relevant conditions.

In addition to medical applications, the holographic technology also has potential uses in security applications, such as the detection of counterfeit medicine, which is thought to cause hundreds of thousands of deaths each year.

Explore further: Holograms set for greatness

More information: Yetisen, A. K., Butt, H., da Cruz Vasconcellos, F., Montelongo, Y., Davidson, C. A. B., Blyth, J., Chan, L., Carmody, J. B., Vignolini, S., Steiner, U., Baumberg, J. J., Wilkinson, T. D. and Lowe, C. R. (2014), Light-Directed Writing of Chemically Tunable Narrow-Band Holographic Sensors. Advanced Optical Materials. DOI: 10.1002/adom.201300375

Related Stories

High-res holograms from carbon nanotubes

Mar 27, 2013

(Phys.org) —Researchers from the University of Cambridge's Department of Engineering have demonstrated the novel utilisation of carbon nanotubes for making high resolution holograms.

Holograms set for greatness

Nov 06, 2013

A new technique that combines optical plates to manipulate laser light improves the quality of holograms.

'Smart' holograms help patients help themselves

Feb 04, 2008

Patients with diabetes, cardiac problems, kidney disorders or high blood pressure could benefit from the development of new hologram technology. The new "smart" holograms, which can detect changes in, for example, blood-glucose ...

Recommended for you

NIST 'combs' the atmosphere to measure greenhouse gases

21 hours ago

By remotely "combing" the atmosphere with a custom laser-based instrument, researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), in collaboration with researchers from the National Oceanic ...

Supersonic laser-propelled rockets

22 hours ago

Scientists and science fiction writers alike have dreamt of aircrafts that are propelled by beams of light rather than conventional fuels. Now, a new method for improving the thrust generated by such laser-propulsion ...

Subwavelength optical fibers to diffuse light

Oct 27, 2014

Researchers at the Femto-ST Institute, working in collaboration with colleagues from the Charles Fabry Laboratory (CNRS/Institut d'Optique Graduate School), have just discovered a new type of light diffusion ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

winthrom
not rated yet Jan 22, 2014
10 pence = 17 cents US

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.