Industrial Electronics

Low cost wearable sensor is 50 times more sensitive than current sensors

10 May 2021

Researchers from Trinity College’s SFI Centre for Advanced Materials and BioEngineering Research (AMBER) have created the next generation of graphene-based sensing technology using their new G-putty material. The printed sensors are 50 times more sensitive than the industry standard and its flexibility outperforms comparable nano-enabled sensors.

Maximizing sensitivity and flexibility without reducing performance makes this technology ideal for wearable electronics and medical diagnostic devices.G-putty based inks can be printed as a thin-film onto elastic substrates, including plasters, and attached easily to the skin (Image: Trinity College Dublin)G-putty based inks can be printed as a thin-film onto elastic substrates, including plasters, and attached easily to the skin (Image: Trinity College Dublin)

The team developed G-putty inks that can be printed as a thin film onto electric substrates, like a bandage. These inks could be tailored according to the given printing technology and the goal of their application.

In medical settings, strain sensors are used as a diagnostic tool to measure changes in mechanical strain, for example, pulse rate. The team's new strain sensor detects mechanical change and converts it into proportional electrical signals, acting as a mechanical electric converter.

Current strain sensors are mostly made from metal foil, which has limitations in wearability, versatility and sensitivity. G-putty is a highly malleable graphene blended silly putty that is low cost and easily scalable. The material can be turned into a working device with industrial printing methods like screen printing, aerosol deposition or mechanical deposition. This allows the team to control parameters during manufacturing and tune the sensitivity of materials for specific applications.

The team is now exploring applications for G-putty to monitor real-time breathing and pulse, joint motion and gait and even early labor in pregnancy.

A paper on the new sensors was published in Small.

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