New Irish chip could end tragic baby cot death

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A team of scientists at Tyndall National Institute, University College Cork have made the world’s first junctionless transistor  a new microchip sensor that can detect a person's respiratory rate without being present at a hospital or clinic.

This powerful new tool can help tackle sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) also known as cot death by constantly monitoring babies in their cot beds, as well as oversee respiration rates in patients with lung conditions. It can even be used for the early detection of sudden onset of sleep in vehicle drivers.

“This microchip is the result of a dedicated and highly-skilled research team at Tyndall National Institute who have been developing this microchip for some considerable time,” s Dr Domenico Zito, leader of the research team stated.

“We recently presented our work to the prestigious IEEE International Solid-State Circuits Conference 2011 in San Francisco and we believe that this microchip has the potential to make a profound impact on monitoring respiratory diseases, as well as reduce the number of deaths resulting from sudden infant death syndrome or accidents arising from driver fatigue.

The microchip gives doctors access to extensive data recorded over long observation intervals, which will allow them to understand more about pathologies and their manifestations.”

The device works when  an ultra-wide-band pulse radar sends short pulses towards the chest detecting chest movements as slight as one centimetre. As it is a wireless monitoring sensor it does not have to touch the patient.

This is the first time that such an ultra-wide-band pulse radar has been integrated into a single silicon chip. “If we look at a strand of our hair and imagine that the 50 nanometer junctionless transistor made in Tyndall is 2,000 times smaller, we can perhaps get a better idea of just what size scale we are working on”, explains Professor Jean-Pierre Colinge of  Tyndall National Institute.

The advance could have major impact on cot deaths, one of the most tragic ways to lose a child.

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