The US government’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has announced a new technique that uses a magnetometer in a cell phone to accurately measure blood glucose levels. This technology takes advantage of the magnetometer present in most modern mobile phones, which is typically used for navigation purposes, but has other potential applications. The researchers believe that this method could be extended to measure various molecules and biomarkers in the blood.

In a proof-of-concept study, the researchers attached a small well containing a solution, instead of blood, and a strip of hydrogel to a cell phone. The hydrogel, a porous material that swells when placed in water, is designed to respond to glucose levels and pH levels by expanding and contracting. Changes in pH levels can indicate various disorders. The movement of magnetic particles within the hydrogel in response to changes in glucose levels caused corresponding changes in the strength of the magnetic field detected by the magnetometer in the cell phone.

The smart hydrogels used in this study are cost-effective and relatively simple to create, making them viable for low-cost test kits that can be connected to a smartphone app to measure blood glucose levels. The results of this research were published in the journal Nature Communications. This innovative use of a smartphone magnetometer has the potential to provide a low-cost alternative for blood glucose monitoring compared to existing options.

By Samantha Johnson

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