Soft skin patch could provide early warning for strokes, heart attacks

UC San Diego engineers developed a soft, stretchy ultrasound patch that can be worn on the skin to monitor blood flow through vessels deep inside the body. Such a device can make it easier to detect cardiovascular problems, like blockages in the arteries that could lead to strokes or heart attacks.

Calling all couch potatoes: this finger wrap can let you power electronics while you sleep

A new wearable device turns the touch of a finger into a source of power for small electronics and sensors. Engineers at the University of California San Diego developed a thin, flexible strip that can be worn on a fingertip and generate small amounts of electricity when a person’s finger sweats or presses on it. What’s special about this sweat-fueled device is that it generates power even while the wearer is asleep or sitting still.

Weakness is strength for this low-temperature battery

Nanoengineers at the University of California San Diego have discovered new fundamental insights for developing lithium metal batteries that perform well at ultra-low temperatures; mainly, that the weaker the electrolyte holds on to lithium ions, the better. By using such a weakly binding electrolyte, the researchers developed a lithium metal battery that can be repeatedly recharged at temperatures as low as -60 degrees Celsius—a first in the field.

New skin patch brings us closer to wearable, all-in-one health monitor

Engineers at the University of California San Diego have developed a soft, stretchy skin patch that can be worn on the neck to continuously track blood pressure and heart rate while measuring the wearer’s levels of glucose as well as lactate, alcohol or caffeine. This one patch performs as well as commercial monitoring devices such as a blood pressure cuff, blood lactate meter, glucometer and breathalyzer.

A flexible screen-printed rechargeable battery with up to 10 times more power than state of the art

A team of researchers has developed a flexible, rechargeable silver oxide-zinc battery with a five to 10 times greater areal energy density than state of the art. The battery also is easier to manufacture; while most flexible batteries need to be manufactured in sterile conditions, under vacuum, this one can be screen printed in normal lab conditions. The device can be used in flexible, stretchable electronics for wearables as well as soft robotics.

Virus-like probes could help make rapid COVID-19 testing more accurate, reliable

Nanoengineers at the University of California San Diego have developed new and improved probes, known as positive controls, that could make it easier to validate rapid, point-of-care diagnostic tests for COVID-19 across the globe. The advance could help expand testing to low-resource, underserved areas.

Environmentally friendly method could lower costs to recycle lithium-ion batteries

A new process for restoring spent cathodes to mint condition could make it more economical to recycle lithium-ion batteries. The process, developed by nanoengineers at the University of California San Diego, is more environmentally friendly than today’s methods; it uses greener ingredients, consumes 80 to 90% less energy, and emits about 75% less greenhouse gases.

A Nanomaterial Path Forward for COVID-19 Vaccine Development

From mRNA vaccines entering clinical trials, to peptide-based vaccines and using molecular farming to scale vaccine production, the COVID-19 pandemic is pushing new and emerging nanotechnologies into the frontlines and the headlines.
Nanoengineers at UC San Diego detail the current approaches to COVID-19 vaccine development, and highlight how nanotechnology has enabled these advances, in a review article in Nature Nanotechnology published July 15.

Machine learning technique speeds up crystal structure determination

A computer-based method could make it less labor-intensive to determine the crystal structures of various materials and molecules, including alloys, proteins and pharmaceuticals. The method uses a machine learning algorithm, similar to the type used in facial recognition and self-driving cars, to independently analyze electron diffraction patterns, and do so with at least 95% accuracy.