Single-walled Carbon Nanotube-based Hydrogel Sensors

Technology #13588

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Schematic illustration for swelled and deswelled hydrogels with embedded SWNT for glucose detection
Professor Michael Strano
Department of Chemical Engineering, MIT
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Paul Barone
The Center For Biomedical Innovation, MIT
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Jingqing Zhang
Department of Chemical Engineering, MIT
Jin Ho Ahn
Department of Chemical Engineering, MIT
Ardemis Boghossian
Department of Chemical Engineering, MIT
Rene Ortiz Garcia
Department of Chemical Engineering, MIT
Hyeonseok Yoon
Department of Chemical Engineering, MIT
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Jon Gilbert
MIT Technology Licensing Officer
Patent Protection

Systems and methods using photoluminescent nanostructure based hydrogels

US Patent 8,377,700
In Vivo Fluorescence Detection of Glucose Using a Single-Walled Carbon Nanotube Optical Sensor:  Design, Fluorophore Properties, Advantages, and Disadvantages
Analytical Chemistry, 2005, 77 (23), pp 7556–7562


  • Hydrogel-embedded single-walled carbon nanotube-based sensors for real time monitoring of glucose or other analytes in vivo

Problem Addressed

This technology provides a new device for continuous sensing of glucose or other analytes by using single-walled carbon nanotubes embedded in a hydrogel matrix.


The healthcare industry currently spends billions of dollars on the treatment and management of diabetes, and this trend is expected to increase in the coming years as the prevalence of diabetes increases throughout the world. The key clinical issue facing the 194 million people afflicted worldwide with diabetes is monitoring and maintaining blood glucose or glycated hemoglobin levels.  A reliable and simple-to-use sensor would dramatically impact both patient behavior and glucose control performance. The current technology provides the next generation sensor focused on continuous, in vivo analyte detection. The sensor is composed of single-walled carbon nanotubes embedded in a biocompatible hydrogel matrix. Detection is achieved through the mechanism of hydrogel swelling which reversibly induces solvatochromic shifts in single walled carbon nanotube near-infrared emission, creating an optical sensor that reports the degree of the swelled state. The swelling state of the hydrogel matrix responds to local glucose concentration, which determines the osmotic pressure in the matrix interior. This technology can be used as a sensing device for continuous glucose detection and can be extended to any stimulus-responsive hydrogel for the detection of pH, other small molecules, such as estradiol, small proteins, such as insulin, and antigens, such as prostate-specific antigen.


  • SWCNTs exhibit good photo-stability
  • Biocompatible
  • Long-term sensing potential
  • Real time detection in vivo