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 cheaply.
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.
Advertisement"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, Dublin.
"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 Nano.
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