The Polymers Technology Center helps companies with custom plastic compounding needs from small scale to full production. Our specialty is in the development of processes on lab and pilot scale. Our affiliation with the Polymers Center also helps us develop new polymer compounds for new products. That’s why, when we run across a new application for a polymer material, we like to talk about it.

A couple months ago, we came across an article in “Tech Briefs” that highlighted a new device that can be placed on the body to measure cortisol in sweat. Cortisol in the body rises and falls throughout the day. In some instances, a spike in cortisol is a sign that a medical condition is present. Traditionally, testing cortisol levels is a long process that takes multiple days. Therefore, by the time results are received, the levels have changed. That makes treating the disorder much more difficult.

Stanford University researchers have developed a device containing an elastomer patch that when applied to the skin assesses the cortisol level in the patient’s sweat. This device can provide results in a matter of seconds. The device identifies biomarkers that detect a range of conditions, diseases, and even evaluation of sports performance. Cortisol levels provide information that help doctors tell if a patient is stressed or if their adrenal or pituitary glands are not working. The new device will allow people to monitor their own levels at home and can assist in assessing children who are not able to communicate verbally.

The patch that adheres to the skin is made up of several layers. The bottom layer sticks to the skin and contains channels that collect the sweat. The next layer up, holds the sweat and delivers it to following layer, which is made of a flexible elastomer and holds the cortisol-sensitive membrane. If cortisol is not present, sodium or potassium ions pass through this membrane; if cortisol is present, it blocks the ions. The final layer is a waterproof covering that protects the patch. The patch is connected to a device that analyzes the patch and provides immediate results. Researchers hope in the future the same process can be used to monitor saliva.

The Polymers Technology Center is available to help companies with the development and production of polymers, including the incorporation of additives. We are located at 8900 Research Drive, Charlotte, NC 28262. To contact us, call (704) 602-4106 or Email us. We look forward to hearing from you.