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Binghamton University research turns DCs into biosensors

According to a report by Chris Kocher from BingUNews, researchers at Binghamton University are recycling old CDs and turning them into flexible biosensors capable of some pretty awesome things.

An article published in by Matthew Brown, Louis Somma, Melissa Mendoza, Gretchen Mahler and Ahyeon Koh shows how compact discs can be transformed into flexible biosensors in a cheap, simple and fast way. The idea was born out of a question about how to reduce electronic waste to reduce its impact on the environment.

In the conclusion of their paper, they wrote, “To date, researchers have presented methods for recycling waste CDs into electrochemical sensors for scalable and inexpensive protocols. However, so far they have failed to demonstrate mechanically durable biosensor platforms for practical wearable applications. The study addresses this limitation. These DCs can be transformed into soft bioelectronics for non-invasive monitoring, while fully integrating with human skin.

So how does it work? The simple explanation is that by dipping a CD in acetone and using a mechanical cutter and polyimide tape, they were able to harvest the metal from the CD and produce a thin metallic film. Then they could easily cut, shape and isolate the metal and add a few more elements to produce bioelectronics.

In Kocher’s report, Assistant Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering Ahyeon Koh said, “When you pick up your hair on your clothes with tape, it’s basically the same mechanism. We loosen the layer of metals from the CD, then we pick up that layer of metal with tape, so we just peel it off, that thin layer is then processed and flexible.

The whole process takes about half an hour and costs just $1.50 per device, making it an inexpensive, quick and efficient way to turn old CDs that would have just taken up space in landfills and to turn them into something that could actually improve people’s lives. Lives. It’s so easy, in fact, that Koh said, “We could also have more general step-by-step instructions on how to make them in a day, without any engineering skills. Anyone can create this type of sensors for their users. We want these to become more accessible and affordable, and more easily distributed to the public.”

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