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Color-Changing Holograms Track Sick Patients’ Progress

Researchers have developed "smart" holograms that can be used to detect health conditions and monitor diseases.

Leah Gonzalez
Leah Gonzalez on January 28, 2014. @leahgonz

Researchers at University of Cambridge have developed holographic sensors that can be used to detect and monitor health conditions and diseases.

The “smart” holograms change color when they come in contact with certain compounds and they are being developed into cheap and portable medical devices and tests that can prove useful especially in developing countries where diagnostic tests can be costly.

The holographic sensors can be used to test a person’s breath, saliva, urine, blood, or tears for a wide range of substances like glucose, hormones, alcohol,  drugs, or bacteria. The color-changing holograms can be checked against a color chart or possibly a smartphone camera — allowing people to monitor their medical progress on their own and without the need for expensive equipment.

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Department of Chemical Engineering  Biotechnology Phd student Ali Yetisen, who led the research, said,

Currently, a lot of medical testing is performed on large, expensive equipment. 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 holograms are made of a highly absorbent material called a hydrogel, impregnated with silver nanoparticles. The silver nanoparticles are formed into 3D-holograms using a single laser pulse. When they come in contact with certain compounds, the holograms shrink or swell, causing them to change color.

The holograms are currently being tested to monitor glucose levels and urinary tract infections in diabetic patients at Addenbrooke’s Hospital. The research team is also developing a smartphone-based test.

A paper on the research was published on the Advanced Optical Materials journal earlier this year.

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University of Cambridge

Source, Images: Gizmag

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