Color changing holograms developed for portable medical tests from infections to diabetes

01/24/2014 - 00:00

‘Smart’ holograms, which are currently being tested to monitor diabetes, and could be used to monitor a wide range of medical and environmental conditions in future, have been developed by researchers.

Responsive holograms that change colour in the presence of certain compounds are being developed into portable medical tests and devices, which could be used to monitor conditions such as diabetes, cardiac function, infections, electrolyte or hormone imbalance easily and inexpensively.

The ‘smart’ holograms can be used to test blood, breath, urine, saliva or tear fluid for a wide range of compounds, such as glucose, alcohol, hormones, drugs, or bacteria. When one of these compounds is present, the hologram changes colour, potentially making the monitoring of various conditions as simple as checking the colour of the hologram against a colour gradient. Clinical trials of the holographic sensors to monitor glucose levels and urinary tract infections in diabetic patients are currently underway at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, part of Cambridge University Hospitals.


Ref: Light-Directed Writing of Chemically Tunable Narrow-Band Holographic Sensors. Advanced Optical Materials (2 January 2014) | DOI: 10.1002/adom.201300375


This tunable holographic sensor offers interrogation and a reporting transducer as well as an analyte-responsive hydrogel, rendering it label-free and reusable. A single 6 ns laser pulse is used to fabricate holographic sensors consisting of silver nanoparticles arranged periodically within a polymer film. The tunability of the sensor is demonstrated through pH sensing of artificial urine and validated through computational modeling