Members Develop Dust-Sized Biometric Sensors and a Temporary Tattoo to Measure Blood Alcohol Levels

These and others recently made headlines

22 August 2016

Member Junzhou Huang received a five-year grant of more than US $535,700 from the U.S. National Science Foundation for a better way to analyze complex patient data.

The money will go toward developing computing tools to access and analyze data, such as pathology and radiology images and genomics information, Huang says. His work could help scientists and doctors make better clinical predictions and develop cures for cancer and other diseases.

Huang is an assistant professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Texas, Arlington.


Fellow Pramod Khargonekar has been appointed vice chancellor for research at the University of California, Irvine. He assumed his new role on 30 June.

Prior to joining the university, Khargonekar was assistant director of engineering at the National Science Foundation.


Senior Member Michel Maharbiz and his colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley, were featured in Newsweek for their work on a system of implantable wireless sensors. The sensors could be used to control prosthetics, provide real-time biometric data, and transmit electrical signals to treat epilepsy and other disorders.

Each sensor in the UC Berkeley researchers’ ultrasonic neural dust system is smaller than a grain of sand. A transceiver sends ultrasonic pulses to a piezoelectric crystal in the implant, which converts them into electricity to provide power. The implant records electrical signals via electrodes, and uses the signals to alter the crystal’s vibration. The vibrations are reflected back to the transceiver, allowing the signal to be recorded—a technique known as backscatter.

Maharbiz is an associate professor at Berkeley.


Senior Member Laura Manning was the first woman to be named Engineer of the Year by the Omaha Public Power District’s Society of Engineers. She was nominated by coworkers for her strong work ethic and dedication, both to the company and community. 

Manning, a senior distribution planning engineer, has been with OPPD for 15 years, and she volunteers as a mentor with Partnership 4 Kids, a program in Omaha for underserved preuniversity students.

She is a member of the IEEE Power & Energy Society and the IEEE Transportation Electrification Community.


Member Patrick Mercier is leading a team that’s developing a flexible, wearable sensor that can measure a person’s blood alcohol via the wearer’s sweat. The team’s work was featured in an IEEE Spectrum article.

The sensor consists of a portable flexible electronic circuit board and a temporary tattoo that sticks to the skin, induces sweat, and electrochemically detects the alcohol level. The circuit board is connected to the tattoo via a magnet and communicates the data from the sensor to a mobile device via Bluetooth. It’s a quick, convenient way to monitor alcohol levels.

Mercier is an electrical engineering professor at the University of California, San Diego. He is a member of the IEEE Circuits and Systems, IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology, and IEEE Solid-State Circuits societies as well as IEEE Young Professionals.

Learn More