ISLAMABAD-A Pakistani scientist from FAST National University of Computer and Emerging Sciences has designed an electronic microchip to monitor the polio vaccine to determine its ability to use.

A statement issued by FAST University said that Dr Rashad Ramzan, a senior faculty member, obtained the US patent for inventing a 2x2mm electromagnetic chip having features of wireless power transfer, temperature sensing, data processing and storage and communication, which will directly be dipped in the vaccine solution to avert human interference.

It said that marking a huge success in polio vaccine’s effective monitoring; the Pakistani scientist has designed and implemented an electro-magnetic microchip which may play a pivotal role in government efforts against polio. The new invention will help in monitoring the vaccine temperature continuously and maintains a complete log to indicate whether the vaccine in a particular vial is fit for use or not.

According to FAST-NU scientist Dr Rashad, the idea of the patent occurred to him when he saw the news alerts about the polio outbreak in Pakistan in 2010-11. In order to preserve the efficacy of the vaccine, it must be stored in temperature range of 2°C to 8°C, ideally 5°C. So in hot climates, temperature control and monitoring are as important as the vaccines themselves, he said.

Currently, individual temperature of each vaccine bottle is monitored with a chemical temperature tag. These tags change its colour when the temperature exceeds the intended temperature range. But there is no information about the time as when the increase in temperature occurred and how large and how frequent were the temperature excursions.

In order to overcome this problem, Dr Rashad and his team in collaboration with Dr Arslan of PAF KIET Karachi have designed and implemented a CMOS single-chip tag that monitors the vaccine temperature continuously and maintains a complete log to indicate whether the vaccine in a particular vial is fit for use or not. The speciality of the tag is that it is extremely small in size and this is directly dipped in the vaccine solution.

Dr Rashad stated that they used the magnetic resonance to wirelessly power up the temperature tags when they are dipped inside the vaccine. The magnetic waves do not attenuate and interact with common materials and have no adverse effect on the vaccines.

The functions of wireless power transfer, temperature sensing, data processing and storage, and communication are all integrated into a single-chip. Such integration eliminates the need for any human interference. Further, every tag can be electronically assigned a unique ID to enable a ‘universal’ database of the vaccines.

The basic research for this work was funded by the UAE University Alain, UAE, he said while urging the government for financial assistance to carry the work further.