From landfill to biomedical – CDs born again as flexible biosensors

At the university’s Thomas J. Watson College of Engineering and Applied Science, they have been removing the gold layer of a CD from the plastic underneath to create the biosensors for various applications. Excellent.

In a paper published last year in Nature Communications, PhD student Matthew Brown and Assistant Professor Ahyeon Koh show how the thin metallic layer can be used to monitor electrical activity in human hearts and muscles as well as lactose, glucose, pH and oxygen levels.

The university writes:

“The fabrication is completed in 20 to 30 minutes without releasing toxic chemicals or needing expensive equipment, and it costs about $1.50 per device. According to the paper, ‘this sustainable approach for upcycling electronic waste provides an advantageous research-based waste stream that does not require cutting-edge microfabrication facilities, expensive materials or high-caliber engineering skills.’”

The first step is removing the metallic coating from the plastic beneath using a chemical process and adhesive tape. Then, to create the sensors, the researchers used a Cricut cutter – an off-the-shelf machine for crafters – and finally new flexible circuits would be removed and stuck onto a person.

The sensors can communicate with a smartphone app, via Bluetooth, and medical professionals or patients could get readings and track progress over time.

According to the university, more than 9 billion music CDs were shipped since 1999 in the U.S. alone, not counting DVDs and videogame discs, etc.

Thanks – and not for the first time – to Nordic Semi’s Wireless Quarter for highlighting this one.

See also: Viewpoint – Reliability, and Bluetooth overcoming interference with AFH

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