CDs Inexpensively Recycled into Flexible Biosensors

Since 1999, more than 9 billion music CDs have shipped in the U.S. That’s not counting worldwide sales, DVDs, software discs or videogames. Sadly, discarded CDs end up in landfills with negative environmental consequences.

 

New research from Binghamton University’s Thomas J. Watson College of Engineering and Applied Science offers a second life for CDs: Turn them into flexible biosensors that are inexpensive and easy to manufacture.In a paper published this month in Nature Communications, Matthew Brown, PhD ’22, and Assistant Professor Ahyeon Koh from the Department of Biomedical Engineering 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. For further information see the IDTechEx report on Wearable Sensors 2021-2031.

 

The fabrication is completed in 20 to 30 minutes without releasing toxic chemicals or needing expensive equipment, and it costs about $1.50 per device. According to the paper, “this sustainable approach for upcycling electronic waste provides an advantageous research-based waste stream that does not require cutting-edge microfabrication facilities, expensive materials or high-caliber engineering skills.”

 

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