Graphene makes state of the art sensors from children’s toy Silly Putty®

Researchers from Trinity College Dublin in collaboration with colleagues from the National Graphene Institute (NGI) at The University of Manchester, have used graphene to make the novelty children’s material Silly Putty® (polysilicone) conduct electricity. This playful experiment allowed scientists to create extremely sensitive sensors.

The research potentially offers exciting possibilities for applications in new, inexpensive devices and diagnostics in medicine and other sectors.

Prof Coleman from Trinity’s School of Physics along with postdoctoral researcher Conor Boland, discovered that the electrical resistance of putty infused with graphene (‘G-putty’) was extremely sensitive to the slightest deformation or impact.

They mounted the G-putty onto the chest and neck of human subjects and used it to measure breathing, pulse and even blood pressure. It showed unprecedented sensitivity as a sensor for strain and pressure, hundreds of times more sensitive than current sensors.

“The behaviour we found with G-putty has not been found in any other composite material. This unique discovery will open up major possibilities in sensor manufacturing worldwide,” according to Professor Coleman.

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>>Read more from University of Manchester News, December 8, 2016