Though body motion sensors already exist in different forms,
they have not been widely used due to their complexity and cost of production.
Now researchers from the University of Surrey and Trinity College Dublin have
for the first time treated common elastic bands with graphene, to develop a
flexible sensor that is sensitive enough for medical use and can be made
Once treated, the rubber bands remain highly pliable. By
fusing this material with graphene - which imparts an electromechanical
response on movement - the team discovered that the material can be used as a
sensor to measure a patient's breathing, heart rate or movement, alerting
doctors to any irregularities.
"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,"
said co-author, Professor Jonathan Coleman from Trinity College
"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," he said.
The new research was published in the journal ACS