PORTLAND — An Oregon teenager has invented a bandage that can tell doctors when it needs to be changed, impressing Google judges and securing a $15,000 scholarship.
Anushka Naiknaware, 13, placed in the top eight in an international science contest run by Google. She won the Lego Education Builder Award, which included the scholarship, a free trip to Lego world headquarters in Denmark and a year of entrepreneurship mentoring from a Lego executive, reported the Oregonian/OregonLive.
Large wounds must be kept moist to promote healing, but changing bandages too often to check moisture levels can make things worse. To solve that problem, Naiknaware, a seventh-grader at Stoller Middle School in Portland, designed and tested a bandage that is embedded with tiny monitors. They can sense moisture levels and allow medical workers to determine whether the dressing has dried out enough that the bandage needs to be changed.
Naiknaware created the sensors by printing a fractal pattern using ink containing graphene nanoparticles. The particles can accurately detect when moisture levels have dropped.
Google judges named her one of 16 global finalists, all of whom traveled to the company's headquarters in Mountain View, California, to present their project. Naiknaware was the youngest person to win one of the global prizes.
She told the Oregonian that being able to interact, debate and play with 19 other curious teen scientists from across the world was one of her favorite life experiences. Another, she said, was the moment she saw her bandage prototype work.
"My idea became a physical, tangible reality," said Naiknaware.
She said she hopes to use her Lego mentor's advice to figure out how to get U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for her bandages so a company can produce them at scale.