Tiny Tech #18: Nanotechnology and Diabetes

Today from the world of Tiny Tech:

There are many reasons for getting a tattoo:  personal expression, remembrance of a family member, or just for fun. But what if there could be a medical reason for getting a tattoo?  

People with diabetes must regularly monitor the amount of glucose, a kind of sugar, in their blood.  The old way is drawing blood from their fingertips and getting a reading from a portable machine.  Unfortunately, this is a painful process that eventually causes a loss of sensation in the fingertips.  

But nanoscience may yield a painless way to monitor blood sugar levels.  Scientists are developing tattoos that contain a special glucose-absorbing ink.  When light shines on the ink, it glows, and the intensity of the glow is related to the amount of sugar in the blood.  Currently, the tattoos must be reapplied every few weeks, but inks based on carbon nanotubes have the potential to be longer lasting. Researchers are even investigating the use of smartphones to measure the glow and display the blood sugar level instantly.  

So, someday, instead of getting a tattoo for your sweetheart, you might get one for your sugar!

Tiny Tech is made possible by the National Science Foundation and WUFT.  To learn more about Tiny Tech, go to tinytechradio.org.

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