A team of researchers from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens in Greece has developed a smart, eco-friendly tongue depressor composed of wood that measures vital signs.

To enable wood to effectively conduct electricity, the team turned to low-power diode lasers. Using a portable, low-cost laser engraver, the researchers etched a pattern of conductive graphite electrodes onto a wooden tongue depressor. According to its developers, those electrodes then created two distinct electrochemical cells distinguished by lines drawn using a water-repellent permanent marker.

Source: National and Kapodistrian University of AthensSource: National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

In the lab, the biosensor quickly and simultaneously measured concentrations of nitrite and glucose — which can reportedly reveal oral diseases, like periodontitis and diabetes, respectively — in artificial saliva.

The team envisions that future iterations of the smart, wooden tongue depressor could be tuned to detect other saliva biomarkers.

The smart, wooden tongue depressor is detailed in the article, “Wooden Tongue Depressor Multiplex Saliva Biosensor Fabricated via Diode Laser Engraving,” which appears in the journal Analytical Chemistry.

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