A wearable UV sensor that has been developed accidentally, can detect damaging amounts of UV. It’s good news for our long-term health.
Sunlight indeed plays a vital role in human biology, including the production of serotonin and vitamin D. However, too much exposure to sunlight can result in sunburn if the skin is not protected. While sunburns may be a temporary nuisance, they significantly increase the risk of skin cancer.
Sunburn is caused by UV light that is not be absorbed by the atmosphere can quickly damage living tissue. Protecting against UV light is sometimes impractical, especially during a beach or working outside. The damage of UV light is invisible to humans and shows up hours later. Overall, UV light from the sun can be considered a silent killer that does not make itself known until it is too late.
A wearable UV detector created accidentally
As we all know that squid can change the color of their skin for camouflage. One chemical called xanthommatin is key to squid camouflage. A team of researchers from the Northeastern Kostas Research Institute recently were working with squid skin to better understand how squids can change the color. But once extracted, xanthommatin is unstable and will break down and change color when exposed to light which caused the researchers extreme difficulty. The change of color that could be due to UV light led to the idea of a wearable device that could detect UV light.
The researchers developed a wearable sensor that impregnates the xanthommatin in a piece of small round paper along with multiple layers of plastic and a reservoir of fluid. The fluid in the reservoir leaks into the paper with the xanthommatin by pushing the sensor, and the pigment changes colour from yellow to red when exposed to too much UV. The wearable device size of a fingertip shows that not all wearable devices have to be electronic in nature.
Such devices can prolong human life
With sunscreen rubbed over it, the sensor can inform a user when their sunscreen has stopped working. This could potentially reduce the number of sunburns caused by prolonged exposure, especially in children who are particularly vulnerable to UV light.