Introduction into how bio-sensors based on slime mould work

Slime mould is a giant single celled organism which physically moves through oscillating muscular contractions in the tubular structures which form the majority of its body.

Monitoring the electrical characteristics associated with their muscular contractions allows the organism’s condition to be known (in ‘real’ time). This can be achieved in practice by enouraging the mould to grow across electrodes. Click on image below to watch slime mould grow between electrodes.

The electrodes are connected to electronics which amplify the organism’s electrical characteristics for analysis. The PhySense project has developed low cost electronics and simple to use analysis software to enable everyone to do their own experiments.

The PhySense software calculates and tracks any changes in the frequency and amplitude of oscillation. The results are graphically display for easy interpretation. For example, in steady conditions the frequency of oscillation remains roughly constant, see sketch below.

However, if the organism is stimulated (for example, food added) the frequency of oscillation may increase, see sketch below.

Conversely, if the organism is exposed to something toxic the frequency of oscillation may decrease, see sketch below.

Being a living organism the slime reacts to most things, for example: light, vibration, etc. Participants are provided with example experiments but free to be creative by trying their own experiments with PhySense technology.

Photos, videos, measurements, etc can be uploaded to shared database.

The PhySense team will analyse the data stored in the database for buried knowledge which might not be visible from analysis of measurements from single experiment.

The acquired knowledge will help to make a better future for everyone.