Graphene-infused rubber bands for monitoring health
How about combining graphene with the humble elastic band to make a big difference in the field of health care by using them to monitor motion associated with breathing and heart rate as well as joints? The rubber bands can be infused with graphene and become conductive whilst remaining stretchy. Connect them to a power source and a subtle movement gives a detectable effect on the current flowing through them. You could then put them into sensor suits for use on vulnerable patients or into performance-assessing athletic clothing. They should be low cost but their manufacture would remain an unknown as the market continues to determine the quality of graphene required for various applications.
Rubber from dandelions
An alternative volume supply of natural rubber is becoming increasingly more viable as researchers across the globe work with the humble dandelion to cultivate sufficient quantities of high yielding plants.
The demand for rubber and elastomers is increasing. Current production stands at around 27 million tonnes annually; two thirds being used for tyres. Natural rubber accounts for about half of annual rubber production: around 13 million tonnes. Last year global demand outstripped supply by 500,000 tonnes. The Russian dandelion produces natural rubber in its tap root and can be cultivated on previously unused acreages in temperate regions throughout Europe, Russia and North America. The Czech company Mitas is involved with a European project that has recently put agricultural tyres using this source of rubber on test.
BRPPA have put together a round up of technology news for you to enjoy.
3D printing from rubber
A team at the Loughborough University are testing methods of 3D printing with rubber. The team has concentrated its research on the use of latex. Five types of latex have been tested for inkjet suitability. As part of the experiment the team has printed a 2cm x 2cm square of latex onto a silicon-coated paper, with materials judged on three criteria – particle size, viscosity and surface tension.
Glass as a rival to rubber?
Scientists at the Tokyo University of Technology have formulated a come up with a type of glass that shows rubber-like characteristics at the point at which glass passes from being a super cooled liquid to a solid. The oxide glass could be useful in high temperature, oxidising environments where organic polymer rubbers cannot cope.