A primary motivation of our research is the monitoring of physical, physiological, and biochemical parameters - in any environment and without activity restriction and behaviour modification - through using miniaturised, wireless Body Sensor Networks (BSN). Key research issues that are currently being addressed include novel sensor designs, ultra-low power microprocessor and wireless platforms, energy scavenging, biocompatibility, system integration and miniaturisation, processing-on-node technologies combined with novel ASIC design, autonomic sensor networks and light-weight communication protocols. Our research is aimed at addressing the future needs of life-long health, wellbeing and healthcare, particularly those related to demographic changes associated with an ageing population and patients with chronic illnesses. This research theme is therefore closely aligned with the IGHI’s vision of providing safe, effective and accessible technologies for both developed and developing countries.
Some of our latest works were exhibited at the 2015 Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition.
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Journal articleGil B, Li B, Gao A, et al., 2020,
Journal articleChen C-M, Anastasova S, Zhang K, et al., 2020,
Excessive stress is one of the main causes of mental illness. Long-term exposure of stress could affect one's physiological wellbeing (such as hypertension) and psychological condition (such as depression). Multisensory information such as heart rate variability (HRV) and pH can provide suitable information about mental and physical stress. This paper proposes a novel approach for stress condition monitoring using disposable flexible sensors. By integrating flexible amplifiers with a commercially available flexible polyvinylidene difluoride (PVDF) mechanical deformation sensor and a pH-type chemical sensor, the proposed system can detect arterial pulses from the neck and pH levels from sweat located in the back of the body. The system uses organic thin film transistor (OTFT)-based signal amplification front-end circuits with modifications to accommodate the dynamic signal ranges obtained from the sensors. The OTFTs were manufactured on a low-cost flexible polyethylene naphthalate (PEN) substrate using a coater capable of Roll-to-Roll (R2R) deposition. The proposed system can capture physiological indicators with data interrogated by Near Field Communication (NFC). The device has been successfully tested with healthy subjects, demonstrating its feasibility for real-time stress monitoring.
Journal articleHooshmand S, Kargozar S, Ghorbani A, et al., 2020,
Journal articleGao A, Liu N, Shen M, et al., 2020,
Laser-profiled continuum robot with integrated tension sensing for simultaneous shape and tip force estimation, Soft Robotics, Vol: 7, Pages: 421-443, ISSN: 2169-5172
The development of miniaturized continuum robots has a wide range of applications in minimally invasive endoluminal interventions. To navigate inside tortuous lumens without impinging on the vessel wall and causing tissue damage or the risk of perforation, it is necessary to have simultaneous shape sensing of the continuum robot and its tip contact force sensing with the surrounding environment. Miniaturization and size constraint of the device have precluded the use of conventional sensing hardware and embodiment schemes. In this study, we propose the use of optical fibers for both actuation and tension/shape/force sensing. It uses a model-based method with structural compensation, allowing direct measurement of the cable tension near the base of the manipulator without increasing the dimensions. It further structurally filters out disturbances from the flexible shaft. In addition, a model is built by considering segment differences, cable interactions/cross talks, and external forces. The proposed model-based method can simultaneously estimate the shape of the manipulator and external force applied onto the robot tip. Detailed modeling and validation results demonstrate the accuracy and reliability of the proposed method for the miniaturized continuum robot for endoluminal intervention.
Journal articleKeshavarz M, Wales DJ, Seichepine F, et al., 2020,
Induced neural stem cell differentiation on a drawn fiber scaffold-toward peripheral nerve regeneration, Biomedical Materials, Vol: 15, ISSN: 1748-6041
To achieve regeneration of long sections of damaged nerves, restoration methods such as direct suturing or autologous grafting can be inefficient. Solutions involving biohybrid implants, where neural stem cells are grown in vitro on an active support before implantation, have attracted attention. Using such an approach, combined with recent advancements in microfabrication technology, the chemical and physical environment of cells can be tailored in order to control their behaviors. Herein, a neural stem cell polycarbonate fiber scaffold, fabricated by 3D printing and thermal drawing, is presented. The combined effect of surface microstructure and chemical functionalization using poly-ʟ-ornithine (PLO) and double-walled carbon nanotubes (DWCNTs) on the biocompatibility of the scaffold, induced differentiation of the neural stem cells (NSCs) and channeling of the neural cells was investigated. Upon treatment of the fiber scaffold with a suspension of DWCNTs in PLO (0.039 gL-1) and without recombinants a high degree of differentiation of NSCs into neuronal cells was confirmed by using nestin, galactocerebroside (GalC) and doublecortin (Dcx) immunoassays. These findings illuminate the potential use of this biohybrid approach for the realization of future nerve regenerative implants.
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