Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - 40

GlobAl
INNOVATIONS
Graphene-Based Sensor Technology for Wearable Medical
Devices Offers Sensitivity, Flexibility
Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
esearchers have developed a nextgeneration,
graphene-based sensing
technology using an innovative
material called G-Putty. The team from
AMBER, the SFI Centre for Advanced
Materials and BioEngineering Research,
and from Trinity's School of Physics in
Dublin, say the printed sensors are 50
times more sensitive than the industry
standard and outperform other comparable
nano-enabled sensors in an important
metric seen as a game-changer in
the industry: flexibility.
Maximizing sensitivity and flexibility
without reducing performance makes
the teams' technology an ideal candidate
for the emerging areas of wearable
electronics
devices.
and
medical
diagnostic
The team - led by Professor
Jonathan Coleman from Trinity's School
of Physics, one of the world's leading
nanoscientists - demonstrated that
they can produce a low-cost, printed,
graphene nanocomposite strain sensor.
Creating and testing inks of different
viscosities (runniness) the team found
that
they could tailor
G-Putty
inks
according to printing technology and
application. They published their results
in the journal Small.1
In medical settings, strain sensors are
a highly valuable diagnostic tool used to
measure changes in mechanical strain
such as pulse rate, or the changes in a
stroke victim's ability to swallow. A strain
sensor works by detecting this mechanical
change and converting it into a proportional
electrical signal, thereby acting
as mechanical-electrical converter.
" My team and I have previously created
nanocomposites of graphene with
polymers like those found in rubberbands
and silly putty, " says Coleman.
" We have now turned G-putty, our highly
malleable graphene blended silly putty,
into an ink blend that has excellent
mechanical and electrical properties.
Our inks have the advantage that they
can be turned into a working device
40
Intro
Cov
R
The team developed a method to formulate G putty-based inks that can be printed as a thin-film onto
elastic substrates, including Band-Aids, and attached easily to the skin. (Credit: Trinity College Dublin)
using industrial printing methods, from
screen printing, to aerosol and mechanical
deposition. "
While strain sensors are currently
available on the market, they are mostly
made from metal foil that poses limitations
in terms wearability, versatility, and
sensitivity.
" An additional benefit of our very lowcost
system is that we can control a variety
of different parameters during the
manufacturing process, which gives us
the ability to tune the sensitivity of our
material for specific applications calling
for detection of really minute strains, "
says Coleman.
■ Market Trends
Current market trends in the global
medical device market indicate that this
research is well placed within the move
to personalized, tuneable, wearable sensors
that can easily be incorporated into
clothing or worn on skin.
In 2020, the wearable medical device
market was valued at USD $16 billion
with expectations for significant growth
particularly in remote patient monitoring
devices and an increasing focus on
fitness and lifestyle monitoring.
The team is ambitious in translating
the scientific work into product. " The
development of these sensors represents
a considerable step forward for the area
of wearable diagnostic devices - devices
www.medicaldesignbriefs.com
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which can be printed in custom patterns
and comfortably mounted to a patient's
skin to monitor a range of different
biological processes, " says Dr. Daniel
O'Driscoll, Trinity's School of Physics.
" We're currently exploring applications
to monitor real-time breathing and
pulse, joint motion and gait, and early
labor in pregnancy. Because our sensors
combine high sensitivity, stability, and a
large sensing range with the ability to
print bespoke patterns onto flexible,
wearable substrates, we can tailor the
sensor to the application. The methods
used to produce these devices are low
cost and easily scalable - essential criteria
for producing a diagnostic device for
wide scale use. "
Prof. Coleman was recently awarded a
European Research Council Proof of
Concept grant to build on these results
to begin to develop a prototype for a
commercial product. The ultimate aim
of the group is to identify potential
investors and industry partners and
form a spin-out company around the
technology focusing on both recreational
and medical applications.
Reference
1. Daniel P. O'Driscoll, et al., " Printable G Putty
for Frequency and Rate Independent,
High Performance Strain Sensors, " Small, 15
April 2021, https://doi.org/10.1002/
smll.202006542.
For more information, visit www.tcd.ie.
Medical Design Briefs, July 2021
µ
È
https://www.doi.org/10.1002/smll.202006542 http://www.tcd.ie http://www.medicaldesignbriefs.com

Medical Design Briefs - July 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Medical Design Briefs - July 2021

Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - Intro
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - Cov4
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - Cov1
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - Cov2
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - 1
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - 2
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - 3
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - 4
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - 5
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - 6
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - 7
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - 8
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - 9
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Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - 40
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - Cov3
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - Cov4a
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