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New Technology Developed to Study Marine Life

The patch called Marine Skin is based on stretchable silicone elastomers that can withstand twisting, shearing and stretching, even when exposed to high pressures in deep waters.

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Their long-term aim is to achieve reliable performance when Marine Skin is attached for up to a year on individual animals of diverse types.
Marine Life, Wikimedia Commons

Scientists have developed a thin smart patch that can withstand twisting, shearing and stretching, even when exposed to high pressures in deep waters and could make studying the behaviour of marine animals easier and more informative.

The patch called Marine Skin is based on stretchable silicone elastomers that can withstand twisting, shearing and stretching, even when exposed to high pressures in deep waters.

“The integrated flexible electronics can track an animal’s movement and diving behaviour and the health of the surrounding marine environment in real time,” said Joanna Nassarm, who was a PhD student in the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia at the time of the research.

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Being able to monitor and record a range of environmental parameters is vital in the study of marine ecosystems. Yet existing systems for tracking animals in the sea are bulky and uncomfortable for animals to wear.

Marine Skin has been tested and demonstrated when glued onto a swimming crab, Portunus pelagicus, but is suitable for tagging a wide range of sea creatures.
Marine Life under study by use of Technology, Wikimedia Commons

“Using simple design tricks and soft materials, we were able to beat the current standard systems in terms of non-invasiveness, weight, operational lifetime and speed of operation,” said Nassar, who is now at California Institute of Technology in the US.

“In the current prototype, the location data is supplemented by recordings of water temperature and salinity. Additional sensing capabilities could be added in future,” he said.

“Possibilities include sensing the physiological state of the tagged animals. This would allow information about ocean chemistry to be correlated with the heath and activity of even small animals as they move around in their habitat,” he added.

The data is currently retrieved via wireless connection when the tag is removed. In future, the researchers hope to develop remote data retrieval procedures by overcoming the problems of transmitting signals through water.

Marine Skin has been tested and demonstrated when glued onto a swimming crab, Portunus pelagicus, but is suitable for tagging a wide range of sea creatures.

The team plans to move on to studies with dolphins and whale sharks. Their long-term aim is to achieve reliable performance when Marine Skin is attached for up to a year on individual animals of diverse types. (IANS)

Next Story

Scientists Create Virtual Biopsy Device to Detect Skin Tumors

This procedure can be completed in 15 minutes with no discomfort to the patient

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Scientists, Virtual, Biopsy
To develop the device that can quickly determine a skin lesion's depth and potential malignancy without using a scalpel. Pixabay

Researchers have developed a “virtual biopsy” device that can distinguish between healthy skin and different types of skin lesions and carcinomas.

The ability to analyse a skin tumour non-invasively could make biopsies much less risky and distressing to patients, according the study published in the journal Skin Research and Technology.

To develop the device that can quickly determine a skin lesion’s depth and potential malignancy without using a scalpel, the researchers used sound vibrations and pulses of near-infrared light.

“This procedure can be completed in 15 minutes with no discomfort to the patient, who feels no sensation from the light or the nearly inaudible sound. It’s a significant improvement over surgical biopsies, which are expensive and time consuming,” said study lead author Frederick Silver, Professor at Rutgers University in the US.

Scientists, Virtual, Biopsy
The ability to analyse a skin tumour non-invasively could make biopsies much less risky and distressing to patients. Pixabay

The experimental procedure, called vibrational optical coherence tomography (VOCT), creates a 3D map of the legion’s width and depth under the skin with a tiny laser diode, said the study.

It also uses sound waves to test the lesion’s density and stiffness since cancer cells are stiffer than healthy cells. An inch-long speaker applies audible sound waves against the skin to measure vibrations and determine whether the lesion is malignant.

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For the findings, the research team tested the device over six months on four skin excisions and on eight volunteers without skin lesions. (IANS)