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  • Inexpensive Graphene and Rubber Band Composite Could Be the Future of Body Movement Sensors

    The next generation of body motion sensors may be a combination of low and high tech: researchers have found that common rubber bands infused with graphene produce adaptable and accurate sensors capable of functioning at high strain rates, all at a materials cost of "essentially zero."

    Researchers from Surrey University and Trinity College Dublin were able to create "G-bands," body sensors that they claim check all the needed boxes when it comes to monitoring everything from heart rate to high-force, high-velocity joint and muscle movements—they're cheap, lightweight, stretchable, and sensitive. "One can envisage weaving G-band based sensors into clothing to monitor the motion of athletes or patients undergoing rehabilitation," authors write. The results of the research were recently published in the journal ACS Nano.

    The G-bands were created by infusing rubber bands with graphene, a 1-atom-thick layer of carbon molecules capable of conducting electricity. Graphene is able to maintain its ability to conduct throughout stretching and twisting, a quality "generally not compatible with traditional silicon/metal-based electronics," according to authors. The G-bands deliver information even at strains above 800%, they write, and "demonstrate impressive performance as kinesthetic motion sensors, detecting motions as subtle as those associated with breathing and pulse."

    "Ultimately, one can imagine a wearable network of G-bands performing wellness monitoring by continuous recording of functions," authors write. They add that the low cost "will make it possible to roll out G-band based sensors extremely widely; for example, facilitating use in the developing world."

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