Date of Graduation

8-2013

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering (PhD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Biological and Agricultural Engineering

Advisor

Vijay K. Varadan

Committee Member

Randy L. Brown

Second Committee Member

Thomas A. Costello

Third Committee Member

David Zaharoff

Keywords

Biological sciences; Applied sciences; Bioimpedance; Biosensors; Electrocardiogram; Hybrid nanostructure; Nanosensors; Smart textile

Abstract

Coronary heart disease, cardiovascular diseases and strokes are the leading causes of mortality in United States of America. Timely point-of-care health diagnostics and therapeutics for person suffering from these diseases can save thousands of lives. However, lack of accessible minimally intrusive health monitoring systems makes timely diagnosis difficult and sometimes impossible. To remedy this problem, a textile based nano-bio-sensor was developed and evaluated in this research. The sensor was made of novel array of vertically standing nanostructures that are conductive nano-fibers projecting from a conductive fabric. These sensor electrodes were tested for the quality of electrical contact that they made with the skin based on the fundamental skin impedance model and electromagnetic theory. The hybrid nanostructured dry electrodes provided large surface area and better contact with skin that improved electrode sensitivity and reduced the effect of changing skin properties, which are the problems usually faced by conventional dry textile electrodes. The dry electrodes can only register strong physiological signals because of high background noise levels, thus limiting the use of existing dry electrodes to heart rate measurement and respiration. Therefore, dry electrode systems cannot be used for recording complete ECG waveform, EEG or measurement of bioimpedance. Because of their improved sensitivity these hybrid nanostructured dry electrodes can be applied to measurement of ECG and bioimpedance with very low baseline noise. These textile based electrodes can be seamlessly integrated into garments of daily use such as vests and bra. In combination with embedded wireless network device that can communicate with smart phone, laptop or GPRS, they can function as wearable wireless health diagnostic systems.

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