Women in Nanoscience

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Women in Nano Blog

Madhu Bhaskharan's sensor helps warn of dangerous UV radiation levels for sunscreen applications or exposure to toxic gases

Posted on June 22, 2015 at 6:15 PM

Summer is a favorite season for many people, but we should all be concerned about our skin's exposure to high levels of UV radiation which could trigger melanoma production, a form of skin cancer. While sunscreen protects skin from UV radiation, its protection only lasts for a few hours, and often the skin is left unprotected against the sun because there is nothing to alarm people of harmful levels of UV radiation.


(Dr. Bhaskaran with her student Philipp Gutruf in the cleanroom.) 


Dr. Madhu Bhaskaran, a senior lecturer at RMIT, Australia, might be able to provide them with just what they need: a flexible electronic device that can be worn to your skin or clothes and monitor levels of UV radiation and provide an alarm, if needed.


In a recent article published in Small, Dr. Bhaskaran and her team demonstrated the fabrication of durable and flexible electronic sensors that can detect UV radiation. The sensor features nanoscale zinc oxide, a UV-sensing material commonly found in sunscreen, embedded in an elastomer. Because it is flexible, the sensor can be worn on the skin, like a nicotine patch, and linked to an electronic device, such as a cell phone, to continuously monitor radiation levels. A similar approach could be used to develop a flexible, wearable sensor that can detect toxic gases or air pollutants and hence protect workers in power plants or people in crowded cities that suffer from smog.


(Dr. Bhaskaran receiving the Phillip Law Postdoctoral Award for Physical Sciences from Royal Society of Victoria president.)  


Dr. Bhaskaran is a co-leader of the functional materials and microsystems research group at RMIT. She currently serves as a book editor for CRC press and a guest editor for Sensor Letters. She also serves on the steering committee of Women in Science Australia which is a national advocacy group for women in STEM.


(Photo credit: Provided by Dr. Bhaskaran, Photo with student: credit to Sarah Adams.)


- Written by Eugene Choi, Edited by Paulette Clancy

Categories: WINnews

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