Wearable devices are catching on quickly and now researchers believe that graphene, known to be the world's thinnest, strongest, and most conductive material could open up a realm of new possibilities.
Imagine a future of smart, battery-free devices that could be printed directly onto a person's skin, are flexible enough to be embedded into fabrics and communicate wirelessly to the Internet.
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That's what researchers led by Dr. Zhirun Hu at the University of Manchester are working to develop.
To date, they've used graphene to construct tiny antennas and transmission lines that work as communication components for gadgets and incorporate mobile and Wi-Fi connectivity. In experiments, they attached the antennas to the arms of mannequins, and tested how well the devices could communicate with each other.
The results show that graphene works just as well as more expensive materials on the market.
When combined with other thin materials, the graphene could be made into an ultra-thin device that sticks onto a patient's skin to monitor temperature, muscle strain and moisture levels.
For example, a graphene RFID tags affixed to a hospital patient's arm could sense body temperature, heartbeat and send the information wirelessly to the hospital's medical staff.
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When not printed directly onto the skin, wearables could also be incorporated into clothing for people such as elderly patients that could benefit from remote healthcare monitoring to improve their quality of life.
"This work demonstrates that this revolutionary scientific material is bringing a real change into our daily lives," Dr. Hu said in in a statement published on the university's website.
These findings were recently published in a paper in Scientific Reports.
via The University of Manchester