New research offers a second life for CDs: Turn them into flexible biosensors that are inexpensive and easy to manufacture.
The researchers show how a gold CD’s thin metallic layer can be separated from the rigid plastic and fashioned into sensors to monitor electrical activity in human hearts and muscles as well as lactose, glucose, pH, and oxygen levels. The sensors can communicate with a smartphone via Bluetooth.
Fabrication is completed in 20–30 minutes without releasing toxic chemicals or needing expensive equipment, and it costs about $1.50 per device. To create the sensors, researchers used a Cricut cutter, an off-the-shelf machine for crafters. The flexible circuits then would be removed and stuck onto a person. With the help of a smartphone app, medical professionals or patients could get readings and track progress over time.