ERJ staff report (TP)
Dublin / Surrey, UK – Rubber bands treated with graphene have been used to create a flexible and highly sensitive sensor, which could be used as a medical application.
Research published in the journal ACS Nano identifies this sensor that could monitor body movement and “revolutionise the future of global healthcare”.
Body motion sensors already exist in different forms, but they are not widely used due to their complex nature and production costs.
However, scientists from the University of Surrey in the UK and Trinity College Dublin have for the first time treated common rubber bands with graphene.
These treated rubber bands remain very pliable. The University of Surrey said by fusing this material with graphene – which imparts an electromechanical response on movement – the material can be used as a sensor to measure a patient’s breathing, heart rate or movement, alerting doctors to any irregularities.
“Until now, no such sensor has been produced that meets these needs,” said University of Surrey’s Dr Alan Dalton. “It sounds like a simple concept, but our graphene-infused rubber bands could really help to revolutionise remote healthcare – and they’re very cheap to manufacture.”
Corresponding author, Professor Jonathan Coleman (pictured above) from Trinity College, Dublin, said: “This stretchy material senses motion such as breathing, pulse and joint movement and could be used to create lightweight sensor suits for vulnerable patients such as premature babies, making it possible to remotely monitor their subtle movements and alert a doctor to any worrying behaviours.
“These sensors are extraordinarily cheap compared to existing technologies. Each device would probably cost pennies instead of pounds, making it ideal technology for use in developing countries where there are not enough medically trained staff to effectively monitor and treat patients quickly.”