Brought to you by
Dr Wenyue Zou
Low-cost wearable UV sensors
Postdoctoral Researcher, RMIT University; PhD (Chemistry), RMIT University
Ultra-violet (UV) radiation in sunlight can be classified as UVA (long wave) and UVB (short wave), and each type has a remarkably different impact on human health.
However, UV radiation is neither visible to humans nor able to be perceived through temperature, so people are unable to see or feel it. This makes it extremely challenging for the average person to determine a safe limit of exposure to the sun.
Overexposure to solar UV is the major cause of skin cancer, while underexposure may cause vitamin D deficiency. Therefore, selectively monitoring UV radiation is important. To achieve this RMIT University Postdoctoral Researcher Dr Wenyue Zou developed a photoactive ink that generates a unique colour response to specific UV wavelengths.
Using this ink, she has fabricated low-cost wearable sensors that mean UV radiation can be easily monitored.
These sensors tell users that they have been exposed to 25, 50, 75 per cent or 100 per cent of their safe UV dose.
“My innovative design uses a multi-redox-active ink that generates a unique colour response to specific UV wavelengths,” Zou says.
“Combining this ink with simple components such as filter paper and transparency sheets allows easy fabrication of low-cost sensors that provide naked-eye monitoring of UV, even at low doses typically encountered during solar exposure.”
Her work also features real-time solar UV radiation dosimeters that meet the specific need of different skin tones.
Zou created six prototype sensors, each specific for a different skin tone, in a wristband format. These sensors tell users that they have been exposed to 25, 50, 75 per cent or 100 per cent of their safe UV dose.
“As people with different skin types have different UV tolerance, I further customised these UV sensors to meet the specific need of different skin phototypes,” Zou says.
“This application shows an innovative response to a practical problem facing the Australian community. Sun exposure is a risk factor in our country, and any easy-to-use technology that assists people to take in the sunshine while remaining safe is a good thing.
“The development of different sensors for different skin tones shows an awareness of the end user, which is good design. This has benefits to the community and demonstrates a high level of innovation.”