New research suggests rubber bands could monitor health issues

Wednesday 20 August 2014 18.21
The scientists say the discovery will lead to multiple uses in areas like healthcare, the automotive industry and robotics
The scientists say the discovery will lead to multiple uses in areas like healthcare, the automotive industry and robotics

Ordinary rubber bands could be transformed into wearable sensors for monitoring blood pressure, joint movement and blood glucose, as a result of a discovery by researchers at the AMBER materials science centre and Trinity College, Dublin.

The method involves adding graphene to the rubber bands, the first time this has ever been successfully achieved anywhere in the world.

Dubbed a wonder material, graphene is made from a single flat layer of carbon atoms.

It is super strong, flexible and conductive, and scientists believe it will in future be used to make all sorts of products, from flexible mobile phones to lighter aeroplanes.

But scientists at the AMBER materials science centre and the School of Physics at Trinity College Dublin have found another use.

In a paper published in the journal ACS Nano, they describe how adding graphene to shop-bought rubber bands, can transform them into wearable sensors.

The world first technique makes the rubber conduct electricity, without degrading its mechanical properties.

As the stretching of the bands strongly effects the flow of electrical current, the bands can sense tiny movements, like a pulse when attached to clothing for example.

The scientists say the discovery will lead to multiple uses in areas like healthcare, the automotive industry and robotics.