Virtual Poster Exhibition

Laser Functionalisation of Flexible Polymer-Carbon Composites for Medical Sensing

Lead Institution: University of Galway

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New carbons, such as graphene, create novel electronics at an ultra-compact scale, replacing metals, silicon and semiconductors, but are disadvantaged by complex and toxic manufacturing methods, requiring process liquids/gases, clean rooms and controlled atmospheres. This project creates flexible polymers, for sensing spatial variations in temperature, moisture and strain for smart polymer skins or smart dressings are required for wound healing, or contaminated or damaged surfaces in structural health monitoring.

A low cost, portable and rugged ultrafast laser inscribes electrically conducting subsurface carbon tracks inside the polymer, without multiple processing steps involving controlled atmospheres, clean room conditions or hazardous liquids. Multifunctional polymer-carbon composites that are sensitive to strain, temperature, will be generated, tuned by the spatial position, conductivity, and porosity of the laser induced carbon inside the polymer substrate. This project will demonstrate flexible polymer sensors as medical devices ranging from smart skin, implants to wearable sensors, measuring conductivity, strain, temperature, charge and moisture (smart catheter, wound monitor, smart skin, electronic tattoo).

Cost effective inscription and process scale-up are defined by digital control of a laser beam, enabling fast, scalable, green, roll-to-roll manufacturing; providing massive scale-up in speed and volume; reduced manufacturing costs, and increased range of new devices enabled by DLW processes.