London: In a first, scientists have treated common elastic bands with graphene to create inexpensive body motion sensors that can measure a patient`s breathing, heart rate or movement.
Although body motion sensors already exist in different forms, they have not been widely used due to their complexity and cost of production, researchers said.
Researchers at the University of Surrey and Trinity College Dublin have now treated common elastic bands with graphene.
Once treated, the rubber bands remain highly pliable. By fusing this material with graphene - which imparts an electromechanical response on movement - the team discovered that the material can be used as a sensor to measure a patient`s breathing, heart rate or movement, alerting doctors to any irregularities.
"Until now, no such sensor has been produced that meets needs and that can be easily made. It sounds like a simple concept, but our graphene-infused rubber bands could really help to revolutionise remote healthcare," said Dr Alan Dalton from the University of Surrey.
"This stretchy material senses motion such as breathing, pulse and joint movement and could be used to create lightweight sensor suits for vulnerable patients such as premature babies, making it possible to remotely monitor their subtle movements and alert a doctor to any worrying behaviours," said co-author, Professor Jonathan Coleman from Trinity College, Dublin.
"These sensors are extraordinarily cheap compared to existing technologies. Each device would probably cost pennies instead of pounds, making it ideal technology for use in developing countries where there are not enough medically trained staff to effectively monitor and treat patients quickly," Coleman said.
The study is published in the journal ACS Nano.