While some professions rely on the skill and experience of their workers, the tech industry thrives on constant growth and innovation. None exemplify this better than the powerhouse innovators at Google. Each year they host an International Science Fair where young minds between the ages of 13 and 18 from across the world can submit their revolutionary designs in a bid to win prize money, scholarships and the respect of the science community.
One standout from the 2016 edition of the fair was 13-year-old Anushka Naiknaware, an 8th-grade student from Beaverton, Oregon. She placed in the top 8 of the competition, securing the LEGO Education Builder Award, a 15,000 dollar scholarship and a year-long mentor programme. Her prizewinning submission was The Fractal Inspired Chitosan and Carbon Nanoparticle Based Biocompatible Sensor for Wound Management. While the name may be verbose the concept in itself is remarkably straightforward.
It is designed to keep a track of the healing status of open wounds through the dressing itself. The technology is fused with the wound dressing and monitors in real time with the help of biocompatible materials that measure the temperature, pH balance, moisture and oxygen levels of an injury while also serving to keep foreign pathogens out. This is especially helpful when dealing with large wounds that need to maintain a certain moisture level to promote healing and can’t be subjected to regular dressing changes. Doctors have often faced the problem of how to monitor the state of the injury without removing the dressings and now with Anushka’s invention they finally have a solution.
The sensors in Anushka’s creation were made by printing a fractal pattern using ink that contains graphene nanoparticles, these particles can accurately detect changes in moisture. There is nothing currently on the market that provides this level of sustained information and this is one hell of a breakthrough for the medical community. Anushka hopes to make the most out of her Google wins and is using her internship time to try and win FDA approval and produce her dressings on a commercial scale.