Technical Brief

Sensitivity of On-Skin Thermometry to Detecting Dermal Dehydration

[+] Author and Article Information
Edward Sun, Jun Ma, Srinivasa Salapaka

Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering,
University of Illinois,
Urbana, IL 61801

Sanjiv Sinha

Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering,
University of Illinois,
Urbana, IL 61801;
Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory,
University of Illinois,
Urbana, IL 61801
e-mail: sanjiv@illinois.edu

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Heat Transfer Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF HEAT TRANSFER. Manuscript received January 27, 2018; final manuscript received August 30, 2018; published online November 5, 2018. Assoc. Editor: Bumsoo Han.

J. Heat Transfer 141(1), 014501 (Nov 05, 2018) (6 pages) Paper No: HT-18-1055; doi: 10.1115/1.4041555 History: Received January 27, 2018; Revised August 30, 2018

The recent development of flexible sensors that can measure temperatures at the surface of the skin opens novel possibilities for continuous health monitoring. Here, we investigate such sensors as 3ω thermometers to noninvasively detect deep dermal dehydration. Using numerical simulations, we calculate the temperature rise at the sensor at heating frequencies from 10 mHz to 10 Hz at varying levels of dehydration. The heating power in each case is limited to avoid burn injury. Our results indicate that 10–100 mHz frequencies are necessary to detect deep dermal dehydration. We show that the root-mean-square difference in temperature rise between normal and dermally dehydrated skin can be as high as 250 mK, which is detectable using lock-in techniques. Thermal contact resistance between the sensor and skin can dominate the signal when the resistance exceeds ∼10−3 Km2/W. This work provides quantitative limits for sensing human dehydration using noninvasive sensors that measure the thermal conductivity of the skin structure.

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Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 1

(a) Cross section of a slice of skin showing the different layers of skin. The approximate thicknesses of the skin layers at the volar forearm are also shown. (b) Side view of layered skin model. The PDMS encapsulates the PI layers and extends upwards (100 μm thick) and outwards. The gold heater line is considered infinitely thin and is modeled as a heat flux boundary. (c) Convergence analysis using h-refinement. A mesh of 1246 elements was used for the analyses. (d) Skin thermal conductivity, (e) specific heat, and (f) mass density of the skin as a function of depth at various levels of hyponatremic dehydration (%TWL). (g) Open loop temperature response measured by the sensor for heating frequency fH=0.1Hz and heating power per unit length (P/l)=1.75W/m for normal and dehydrated (10% TWL, hyponatremic) skin states. The heater power used is the highest allowable power input such that the skin temperature does not exceed 43 °C and damage the skin. Note that the heater temperature can exceed 43 °C without damaging the skin due to thermal contact resistance between the heater and skin. (h) Zoomed in view of Fig. 1(h). ΔTD is defined as the difference in ΔT of dehydrated and normal skin. (i) Maximum skin temperature over all time plotted against depth into the skin for various frequencies.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 2

(a) Maximum heating power per unit length of the wire such that the maximum skin temperature is below 43 °C and (b) ΔTD for various heating powers and heating frequencies. For higher frequencies, ΔTD scales nonlinearly with heating power.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 3

Contour plots of the RMS temperature rise difference between normal and dehydrated skin states, ΔTD,RMS as a function of percent total water loss, TWL, and heating frequency, fH. Heating power per unit length, P/L for each frequency is chosen such that the maximum temperature of the skin does not exceed 43 °C. (a) An extreme hyponatremic case (greater loss of electrolytes than water) and (b) an extreme hypernatremic case (greater loss of water than electrolytes). Most dehydration cases fall in between these extremes. The zones marked I-V correlate TWL to the magnitude of dehydration.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 4

Sensitivity of ΔT and ΔTD (10% TWL) to skin-PI thermal contact resistance



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