In Focus - Issue 35 (Spring 2023)

o er near real-time sweat stimulation, collection, and analysis in one wearable as the sensors allow for local sweat stimulation. They are optimized to enable rapid uptake of an ultralow sweat secretion rate and can perform immediate and accurate sweat composition measurement and analysis with a volume as little as nanoliters. Furthermore, the technology can be used to measure other molecular constituents of sweat, Prof. Nyein noted. “If a disease’s indicator is involved with sweat biomarkers, we can collaborate with healthcare professionals and modify the sensor technology for a speci c application.” Beyond healthcare, sports science is a likely bene ciary, with the sensors able to estimate an athlete’s loss of body fluid, electrolytes, as well as sweat. “We are already having conversations with sports labs and athletes to conduct further studies. This could potentially bene t athletes by helping them nd their best condition and optimize their performance,” she said. Born in Myanmar, Prof. Nyein earned her bachelor’s degree and PhD in Materials Science and Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, going on to join Stanford University as a postdoctoral fellow. In addition to her Innovator recognition, Prof. Nyein’s research has been published in eminent scienti c journals such as Nature. She joined HKUST in mid- , where she is relishing the dedication and dynamism of the School of Engineering’s research environment and fellow faculty members as she prepares to take her technology to the next stage of development. In the next ve years, Prof. Nyein’s goal is to acquire a large set of data and map out a baseline representing a healthy and equilibrium body condition. If a user’s sweat measurements deviate from the healthy baseline, it might be an early indicator of a developing health condition, warning the user to get a medical check-up. To uncover correlations between sensor measurements and health status, and determine subsequent actions that could be taken, it is essential to involve experts with core competencies in data analytics, she explained. “We will need help from big data and machine learning specialists to analyze the large database and extract meaningful insights. Lots of interdisciplinary and collaborative research will be required for this idea to become successful.” As Prof. Nyein believes that a positive impact on society is the ultimate goal of every research endeavor, she is looking forward to this challenge and to passing on her expertise to students, empowering them to become creative changemakers for society in the future. “Not every career o ers the opportunity to do what we love while enabling us to mentor the younger generation and help them make a real-world impact,” she said. “I am proud and honored to be able to do both at HKUST at this stage of my career.” Sweat rate optimization Nyein sensors allow rapid uptake at low secretion rates through use of a rigid hydrophilic ller topped with a thin hydrogel in the collection well. Minimal measurement delay Fast collection reduces the time that sweat stays on the skin and facilitates near real-time sweat monitoring. On-the-spot analysis Assessment of sweat rate and compositions can be carried out inside the microfluidic channel. Molecular-level metrics Accurate molecular quanti cation with a volume as small as nanoliters and operational stability up to hours. Biosensor bene ts PCB Sweat gland Sweat rate monitor Microfluidic chip Sweat collection area 19 IN FOCUS