Paper-based sensor may help people avoid overexposure to sun

The proof-of-concept study shows a non-toxic chemical combination printed on paper measured sun exposure effectively.

By Stephen Feller

SYDNEY, May 25 (UPI) -- Recent studies have suggested many people do not do enough to protect themselves from the sun, despite being aware of the dangers of too much exposure to ultraviolet rays.

Researchers in Australia may have a novel way to help people take care of their skin, showing a proof-of-concept sensor printed on paper could help people avoid overexposure to the sun's dangerous rays.


The basic concept revolves around not knowing when you've had too much sun, offering a disposable method of measuring exposure based on a person's own skin tone. The sensor can even be calibrated to consider the SPF of a sunscreen a person is wearing.

"Most currently available UV sensors require high-tech gadgets to operate, such as smartphones or wearable devices," the researchers said in a press release. "Recently, single-use, disposable sunburn sensors have come onto the market. However, some of these sensors use substances that are potentially harmful to people or the environment."

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For the study, published in the journal ACS Sensors, the researchers tested food dyes and other chemicals for their sensitivity to sunlight and how they change when exposed over various periods of time.


The researchers arrived at a combination of titaniaum dioxide and food dye, loaded into an ink cartridge and printed using an off-the-shelf inkjet printer.

Brilliant blue FCF food dye showed the most significant degradation in the sun, with the ratio of dye to titanium dioxide, and different polymorphs of the chemical, allowing for the composition to be altered for better monitoring of sun exposure on different skin tones.

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Although successful when tested, no plans for further studies or development were announced by researchers.

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