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Smart bandage uses UVC LEDs


Researchers think UVC light could stop growth of bacteria in wounds without the use of drugs like antibiotics

A team of researchers from the UK and France have developed a bandage, which is embedded with UV LEDs to bathe wounds in sterilising ultraviolet light to prevent the growth of bacteria without drugs. The results were published in the journal IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Circuits and Systems.

The bandage contains embedded low-power UVC LEDs in the 265 to 285 nm range with the light emission controlled via a microcontroller. To power these devices, the team built a slim, flexible inductive coil which could be integrated into the fabric of the bandage. The coil uses a technique called magnetic-resonant wireless power transfer to provide power to the UV LEDs without the need for batteries. Instead, the inductive coil receives its power over the air, transmitted from a second coil connected to the electrical mains.

The LEDs can be powered indefinitely by keeping the transmitting and receiving coils close to one another until the antimicrobial treatment is complete.

In lab tests, the researchers exposed samples of a strain of gram-negative bacteria called Pseudoalteromonassp. D41 to the UV light supplied by the smart bandage. Some forms of gram-negative bacteria can cause a range of serious infections in humans.

The tests showed that the smart bandage could slow and stop the growth of Pseudoalteromonas sp. D41 on the surfaces of slides, effectively eradicating the bacteria within six hours. The researchers suggest that the system could find use in medical settings to do the same for bacteria in patients’ chronic non-healing wounds.

Steve Beeby, RAEng Chair in Emerging Technologies at the University of Southampton, is a co-author of the paper. He said: “The use of ultraviolet light to kill viruses and bacteria is well known and this is the first work to integrate UVC emitting LEDs within a bandage and explore its efficacy. This approach could provide a significant benefit to the treatment of persistent wounds and is a major advance over typical smart bandages that attempt to monitor wound condition”.

Mahmoud Wagih, of the University of Glasgow’s James Watt School of Engineering, is another co-author of the paper. He developed the smart bandage’s wireless power delivery system.

Wagih said: “Traditional batteries are bulky, inflexible, and need to be changed regularly. That makes them difficult to use in bandages, which need to conform closely to the contours of patients’ bodies to deliver reliable treatment over several hours. The system we’ve developed is flexible and can be seamlessly integrated into the fabric of a bandage to power the LEDs, which deliver UV-C light across any surface.

“We believe that smart bandages will be key to future healthcare, but we need to be mindful of their environmental footprint. In the UK alone, over 40,000 tonnes of batteries are sold annually and less than half of them are recycled. Our wireless power technology will allow healthcare wearables to grow, sustainably, as an alternative to drug-based treatments” .

“We’ll be continuing to collaborate on developing the bandage further to integrate sensors capable of monitoring the progress of wounds, as well as setting out to test the technology in clinical settings in the years to come.”

Researchers from the Universities of Southampton and Glasgow in the UK contributed to the paper, along with colleagues from the Detection, Sensors and Measurements Laboratory at Infremer in France.


I. Ullah et al., "Wirelessly Powered Drug-Free and Anti-Infective Smart Bandage for Chronic Wound Care," in IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Circuits and Systems (2023)

M. Wagih, A. Komolafe, I. Ullah, A. S. Weddell and S. Beeby, "A Wearable All-Printed Textile-Based 6.78 MHz 15 W-Output Wireless Power Transfer System and Its Screen-Printed Joule Heater Application," in IEEE Transactions on Industrial Electronics, (2023)

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