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Graphene rubber bands could stretch limits of current healthcare, new research finds

Date:
August 19, 2014
Source:
University of Surrey
Summary:
A new type of sensor that can monitor body movements and could help revolutionize healthcare is described in a new study. "These sensors are extraordinarily cheap compared to existing technologies. Each device would probably cost pennies, making it ideal technology for use in developing countries where there are not enough medically trained staff to effectively monitor and treat patients quickly," researchers said.

New research published today in the journal ACS Nano identifies a new type of sensor that can monitor body movements and could help revolutionise healthcare.

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Although 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 create 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.

"Until now, no such sensor has been produced that meets needs and that can be easily made. It sounds like a simple concept, but our graphene-infused rubber bands could really help to revolutionize remote healthcare," said Dr Alan Dalton from the University of Surrey.

Co-author, Professor Jonathan Coleman from Trinity College, Dublin commented, "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."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Surrey. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Conor S. Boland, Umar Khan, Claudia Backes, Arlene O’Neill, Joe McCauley, Shane Duane, Ravi Shanker, Yang Liu, Izabela Jurewicz, Alan B. Dalton, Jonathan N. Coleman. Sensitive, High-Strain, High-Rate Bodily Motion Sensors Based on Graphene–Rubber Composites. ACS Nano, 2014; 140819080104000 DOI: 10.1021/nn503454h

Cite This Page:

University of Surrey. "Graphene rubber bands could stretch limits of current healthcare, new research finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 August 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140819083431.htm>.
University of Surrey. (2014, August 19). Graphene rubber bands could stretch limits of current healthcare, new research finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 1, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140819083431.htm
University of Surrey. "Graphene rubber bands could stretch limits of current healthcare, new research finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140819083431.htm (accessed April 1, 2015).

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