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Wearable, Stretchable and Foldable Body Sensor Made With The Help of a Chewing Gum

Chewing Gum

We have come a long way since the days when body sensors were available only in medical facilities as they needed either to be plugged in or were not portable. Modern sensors can be worn day and night, and can easily track steps, sleep cycles, Calories burned, heart rate, temperature and much more, all that in real-time.

"Gummy" sensor

“Gummy” sensor

That didn’t stop scientists to make an even more adaptable body sensor, all with the help of a chewing gum, yes you heard it right, a chewing gum. A new all-around sensing device is made out of carbon nanotubes and gum that can be freely bendable and can even track your breathing. The uses for such an amazing invention are endless. From simple body tracker that can be stretched over a variety of body parts to fully functional clothing solutions and biochips.

Body sensors today are very responsive and can detect even the slightest movements, but some parts of the sensors are made out of metal and once they are bent or twisted too much (to get the most accurate results they are usually placed on joints and other body parts that move and bend a lot) they can become damaged. To address this issue, developers have so far been using silicones and pliable plastics. Although these materials are more flexible, the sensitivity of the sensors was reduced. Researcher Malcolm Xing and his team found a better solution right in their mouths – chewing gum.

In order for them to make their super agile sensor, they chewed an ordinary piece of gum for 30 minutes, cleaned it with ethanol and let the »product« rest overnight. The next step was to add a special sensing material made out of carbon nanotubes. Folding and pulling coaxed the nanotubes to align perfectly.

Bending, folding and twisting this device showed the material could keep on functioning with high sensitivity even when strained by 530%. The sensor is also capable of detecting humidity changes, a feature that could be a very useful addition to track breathing as with every exhale water vapor comes out of our mouth.

This study was published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces under a title :”Gum Sensor: A Stretchable, Wearable, and Foldable Sensor Based on Carbon Nanotube/Chewing Gum Membrane”.

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