Scientists have discovered that adding graphene to silly putty could create a new type of heart monitor.
As anyone who was ever a kid knows, silly putty (also known as slime or goo) is awesome. It bounces, it melts, and if you leave it on the carpet it gets stuck in there forever. Silly putty is a simple invention, made of boric acid and rubber. Scientists who invented it 70 years ago were looking for an alternative to rubber. But the new material became a toy, and hasn’t found other uses.
Now, scientists in Ireland may be changing that. “It’s got these strange properties but it never really found an application. So we thought, if we could make it do something, that would be cool,” Jonathan Coleman, a physicist at Trinity College in Dublin, told news site NPR.
Coleman’s main work is with the hyped up substance graphene, a one atom thick layer of carbon known to possess all kinds of astonishing properties. In his experiment, Coleman combined graphene with silly putty. Graphene is known as a good conductor of electricity, and it turns out that by combining it with silly putty, you get a material that is incredibly sensitive to pressure. A small glob of it could measure heart beat and even blood pressure with great accuracy. The study has since been published in Science. Pretty amazing to think that pink goo your kid is playing with may one day be used in your own heart monitor, thanks to graphene.
Image credit: University of the Fraser Valley
This article was originally written for and published by Popular Mechanics USA.