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G-putty

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

G-putty is a polysilicone polymer infused with graphene. Polysilicone polymer is better known as Silly Putty®, a stretchy, moldable product sold in toy stores. Graphene is a highly-conductive carbon allotrope whose atoms are arranged in a mesh-like shape just one atom thick. The qualities of G-putty make it an ideal material for sensors.

The addition of graphene makes the substance conductive, as expected, but the researchers found that it also made it a high-performance material for sensing pressure, impact and deformation. Even a tiny strain or impact causes the resistance of the substance to increase dramatically; over time, as it regains its original shape, the resistance tends to return to its original level. That happens because the mesh-like structure of the graphene allows it to form and break networks as the substance is deformed.

The researchers who discovered the special qualities of G-putty foresee its use in medical and health-related sensors. When they placed a silly putty sensor on a person’s chest, for example, they found they could monitor his breathing. A sensor placed over the carotid artery could not only measure the person’s pulse rate but could also monitor his blood pressure continuously, which has heretofore been a more difficult task.

G-putty was developed as a collaborative effort of Graphene Flagship at Trinity College Dublin and the National Graphene Institute (NGI) at The University of Manchester, led by Professors Johnathan Coleman and Robert Young, respectively.

This was last updated in October 2018

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