UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A team of four College of Engineering students, one College of Earth and Mineral Sciences student and one engineering faculty member recently won the top prize in the Ben Franklin (BF) TechCelerator @ State College program. 

Jia Zhu, graduate student in engineering science and mechanics; Michael Dexheimer, graduate student in engineering science and mechanics; Shangbin Liu, undergraduate student in mechanical engineering; Kairui Tang, undergraduate student in mechanical engineering; Ning Yi, graduate student in materials science and engineering; and Larry Cheng, assistant professor of engineering science and mechanics, were awarded first place for their flex heal product — a stretchable bandage for advanced wound healing and health monitoring.   

The BF TechCelerator @ State College program partners with Invent Penn State to host the 10-week business startup program for emerging tech-entrepreneurs from Penn State and the surrounding community. The program is designed for individuals or teams who are considering advancing a tech-business idea into a tech startup. At the end of the 10-week program, participants present their business ideas to a panel of local professionals and potential investors. Winning teams receive up to $10,000 to help launch their businesses.  

Led by Zhu, the team focused on developing a wearable health monitor that uses radio frequency energy to power its flexible electronics that are made of stretchable rectennas and sensors. The team calls their product “Flex Heal.” 

“We realized the power supply is a key factor restricting the applications of flexible electronics,” Zhu said. “Considering the widely existing energy, we knew it would be beneficial for the development of green energy if radio frequency energy could be leveraged to power flexible electronics. We developed a wideband stretchable rectenna to harvest radio frequency energy with high efficiency.”

Zhu mentioned that healing is a crucial stage in the wound recovery process, especially for diabetic patients. According to Zhu, traditionally, wound medical treatment decisions and healing evaluations are based on visual inspection, potentially resulting in unnecessary errors. 

“We think that wearable electronics can provide more accurate evaluations by measuring the local pH, temperature and glucose levels in wounds,” Zhu said. “Wearable electronics can be attached to human bodies without introducing discomfort, thus owning the advantage of providing long-term and real-time monitoring capabilities.”

Zhu and his team plan to use the prize money to accelerate prototype development and continue to collect data from potential users for this product.

 

Last Updated August 04, 2020