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Graphene-Laced Silly Putty Creates Sensors

BioPhotonics
Jan 2017
DUBLIN — By infusing silly putty (polysilicone) with graphene, researchers in AMBER — the Science Foundation Ireland-funded materials science research center at Trinity College Dublin — have produced an extremely sensitive sensor they call “G-putty.”

They found that when the graphene was added, the silly putty was able to conduct electricity and became very sensitive to deformation and impact.

Professor Jonathan Coleman and his son, Oisin, with G-putty and silly putty.
Professor Jonathan Coleman and his son, Oisin, with G-putty and silly putty.  Courtesy of Trinity College Dublin.

Jonathan Coleman, lead researcher and professor of chemical physics at Trinity, said the G-putty could be used to produce inexpensive devices and diagnostics in medicine and other sectors.

“While a common application has been to add graphene to plastics in order to improve the electrical, mechanical, thermal or barrier properties, the resultant composites have generally performed as expected without any great surprises,” said Coleman. “The behavior 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.”

The research team has tested out their creation in a medical setting by mounting the G-putty onto the chest and neck of human subjects measuring breathing, pulse and even blood pressure. It showed unprecedented sensitivity as a sensor for strain and pressure, being hundreds of times more sensitive than normal sensors.

The G-putty also works as a very sensitive impact sensor, able to detect the footsteps of small spiders.

The AMBER team’s findings have been published in the journal Science.

Trinity College DublinambergrapheneSensors & DetectorsResearch & TechnologybiophotonicseducationBioScan

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