21 Apr 2022

Powering change

Wearable medical sensors that can charge themselves and are more sustainable and resilient are being developed from innovative new materials. Self-charging power units are often expensive and bulky but researchers at Penn State University are using lightweight graphene-based materials to create a low-cost foam that is capable of getting energy from human movement.

The technology has been used to create a self-powered, stretchable health monitor which can measure factors such as pulse, blood pressure and oxygen levels and doesn’t need a wired power supply or charger.

The work is being led by Huanyu Cheng, the Dorothy Quiggle Career Development Assistant Professor of engineering science and mechanics, who has already developed a range of devices made from flexible electronics to make them more comfortable for patients.

He said: “There’s a significant need for environmentally-friendly, self-charging sensors that can monitor patients’ vital signs without contributing to their physical or financial stress — and we’re finding those solutions can be applied to a broad range of challenges.”

Read more about the research on Penn State’s website.