World-first graphene-rubber sensors could be used in medicine, automotive and aeronautical industries

Researchers at AMBER, the Science Foundation Ireland funded materials science centre, and the School of Physics, Trinity College Dublin, have discovered a method of creating wearable sensors by adding graphene to shop-bought rubber bands; the first time this has ever been achieved worldwide. Working with researchers from the University of Surrey, their findings have been published in ACS Nano, a leading international nanoscience publication.

The team – led by Professor Jonathan Coleman, one of the world’s leading nanoscientists – infused rubber bands with graphene, a nano-material derived from pencil lead which is 10,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair. This process is simple and compatible with normal manufacturing techniques. While rubber does not normally conduct electricity, the addition of graphene made the rubber bands electrically conductive without degrading the mechanical properties of the rubber. Tests showed that, any electrical current flowing through the graphene-infused rubber bands was very strongly affected if the band was stretched. As a result, if the band is attached to clothing, the tiniest movements such as breath and pulse can be sensed.

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