New radiation badges detect exposure quicker

Thanks to Purdue University and Dr. Ziaie, there is a cost-efficient tool to measure radiation exposure.

Posted: Aug 17, 2018 11:25 PM
Updated: Aug 23, 2018 3:40 PM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Thanks to Purdue University and Dr. Ziaie, there is a cost-efficient tool to measure radiation exposure.

It's light-weight. It's effective. It could save lives.

"The size of the patch is about an inch by an inch,” said the professor of electrical and computer engineering, Dr. Ziaie.

The bio-hybrid radiation patch is made up of aluminum foil, freezer paper, sugar and yeast.

This combination with the yeast makes Purdue's badge unique compared to others on the market.

"When you wear badges, the badges are sent back after a month or two and then they are going to tell you the radiation you received is okay,” said Ziaie. “In this case we can have them know that or do that immediately. It's low cost and you can do it in the same day. Meanwhile since its yeast you can have some indication of biological damage."

The biological damage this badge can measure includes changes in DNA and protein.

So how does the patch work?

"When the radiation goes through some of the yeast gets damaged,” said Ziaie. “So if you have a lot of radiation, a lot of yeast gets damaged, so we can measure how many of them are alive, the yeasts, so it is an indication of how much radiation you are receiving. So add a little bit of water. The water goes in and starts activating the yeast. The yeasts starts creating alcohol and carbon dioxide and you can measure the change in the electrical property of the sensor through two contacts."

That's why these patches are commonly referred to as "microbreweries." The yeast is the man power behind the invention.

"We've done a lot of testing, but it’s still when you want to sell these things on a larger scale, to the public you need to go through probably thousands of these,” said Ziaie. “Make sure there's a repeatable measurement or repeatable manufacturing."

The patch is patent pending and Dr. Ziaie says the next step is to license it and receive a research grant.

The wearable microbrewery patch cost is so low, that all it takes to manufacture is a couple of pennies.

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