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Super Sensitive Sensors Developed by Researchers for Medical Devices

Researchers have created a graphene-based sensing technology that they say has the potential to transform wearable medical devices. Using graphene-embedded Silly Putty — or G-Putty — a team from the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Advanced Materials and BioEngineering Researchers and Trinity’s School of Physics created a low-cost, printed graphene nanocomposite strain sensor.

They developed a method to formulate GPutty-based inks that can be printed as a thin film onto elastic substrates, such as Band-Aids, and easily applied to the skin, led by nanoscientist Jonathan Coleman, head of Trinity’s School of Physics. The team discovered that by creating and testing inks of various viscosities, they could tailor G-Putty inks to the printing technology and application. The findings of their research were published in the journal Small this week.

Strain sensors are a highly useful monitoring tool in medical environments, where they are used to monitor changes in mechanical strain such as pulse rate or changes in a stroke patient’s ability to swallow. A strain sensor functions as a mechanical-electrical converter by sensing this mechanical transition and translating it into a proportional electrical signal. The majority of strain sensors on the market are made of metal foil, which has drawbacks in terms of wearability, flexibility, and sensitivity.

According to the Researchers, their printed sensors are 50 times more sensitive than industry standards and outperform other comparable nano-enabled sensors in terms of flexibility. According to the press release, the team is working on turning their experimental Researchers into a product. Coleman recently received a proof of concept grant from the European Research Council to create a commercial product prototype.

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