Don’t throw away your CDs anymore, they can be transformed into smart sensors

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CD players have almost disappeared from stores, but the compact disc still exists. CD album sales even increased in the United States last year for the first time in 17 years. But the support in plastic lasts much longer than necessary and the majority of CDs are likely to end up in a landfill sooner or later.

Researchers from the state university of new yorkin Binghamton, have found a new solution for recycle cds, or at least golden CDs. In an article published in the journal NatureCommunicationsthey describe their simple method for reusing the gold layer to create flexible biometric sensors. They can monitor electrical activity in the heart and muscles, blood flow, body temperature as well as the levels of lactose, glucosepH and oxygen.

Examples of different sensors created by cutting the metal layer of a CD.  © State University of New York, Binghamton

Sensors in less than half an hour with consumer equipment

To separate the metal layer from the plastic backing, the researchers dip the CD inacetone for a minute and a half. the metal is removed using an adhesive polyimide strip which also serves as a support for the sensors. They then use a consumer cutting machine (CricutMaker) available for a few hundred euros to cut patterns in the metal layer and thus create the sensors. It’s the pattern type specific that determines what the sensor measures.

The manufacturing process requires between 20 and 30 minutes; it does not use any hazardous products or industrial devices and costs about $1.50. They can then connect a small Bluetooth module equipped with a battery in order to send the data wirelessly to a smartphone. Researchers now want to explore the recycling silver CDs, more common, and test the engraving laser to speed up the process.

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