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Non-invasive, transdermal, path-selective and specific glucose monitoring via a graphene-based platform

Nature Nanotechnologyvolume 13pages504511 (2018) | Download Citation


Currently, there is no available needle-free approach for diabetics to monitor glucose levels in the interstitial fluid. Here, we report a path-selective, non-invasive, transdermal glucose monitoring system based on a miniaturized pixel array platform (realized either by graphene-based thin-film technology, or screen-printing). The system samples glucose from the interstitial fluid via electroosmotic extraction through individual, privileged, follicular pathways in the skin, accessible via the pixels of the array. A proof of principle using mammalian skin ex vivo is demonstrated for specific and ‘quantized’ glucose extraction/detection via follicular pathways, and across the hypo- to hyper-glycaemic range in humans. Furthermore, the quantification of follicular and non-follicular glucose extraction fluxes is clearly shown. In vivo continuous monitoring of interstitial fluid-borne glucose with the pixel array was able to track blood sugar in healthy human subjects. This approach paves the way to clinically relevant glucose detection in diabetics without the need for invasive, finger-stick blood sampling.

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This work was supported by a Science and Innovation Award (EP/G036101/1) from the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, and a MRC Confidence-in-Concepts grant (MC-PC-14106) from the UK Medical Research Council. L.L. acknowledges a studentship funded by the Sir Halley Stewart Trust, UK. The authors thank T. Woodman (University of Bath) for his assistance with the 1H-qNMR measurements and analysis.

Author information


  1. Department of Physics, University of Bath, Bath, UK

    • Luca Lipani
    • , Bertrand G. R. Dupont
    • , Floriant Doungmene
    •  & Adelina Ilie
  2. Department of Pharmacy & Pharmacology, University of Bath, Bath, UK

    • Luca Lipani
    • , Bertrand G. R. Dupont
    • , Rex M. Tyrrell
    •  & Richard H. Guy
  3. Centre for Graphene Science, University of Bath, Bath, UK

    • Luca Lipani
    • , Bertrand G. R. Dupont
    • , Floriant Doungmene
    • , Richard H. Guy
    •  & Adelina Ilie
  4. Centre for Nanoscience & Nanotechnology, University of Bath, Bath, UK

    • Luca Lipani
    • , Frank Marken
    • , Richard H. Guy
    •  & Adelina Ilie
  5. Department of Chemistry, University of Bath, Bath, UK

    • Frank Marken


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A.I., R.H.G. and R.M.T. designed the overall work programme. B.G.R.D. performed the work related to the deconstructed pixel device. L.L. and F.D. performed the work related to the planar thin-film/CVD graphene pixel array integrated on a flexible substrate. L.L. performed the work related to the screen-printed arrays, with input from F.D. F.M. provided advice on the implementation of the electrochemistry experiments. A.I. rationalized the array characteristics via simulations, and A.I. and F.D. proposed the detailed pixel array architecture (for both generations, thin-film and screen-printed, of prototypes). A.I., R.H.G. and R.M.T. supervised the deconstructed pixel device research, while A.I. and R.H.G. supervised the pixel array research. A.I. and R.H.G. wrote the paper, and all authors provided comments and agreed with the final form of the manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Adelina Ilie.

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    Supplementary Text, Supplementary Figures 1–18, Supplementary Tables 1–2 and Supplementary References

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