Apparently, graphene – the lightest, thinnest yet hardest material in the world – fits the description of the perfect wearable device.
Academics from the University of Manchester claim that graphene communication devices can be printed directly onto the skin as well as clothing.
Graphene is a highly conductive and ultra-flexible material that could provide for the creation of phones or health-monitoring devices that are Internet-ready. Not to mention, with the structure of graphene, these devices could also have chargers integrated into them, making it the ultimate "smart skin" application.
The university is now known as "The Home of Graphene" and serves as a groundwork hub for studies on graphene technology.
"The breadth of research taking place at the University and the National Graphene Institute (NGI) demonstrates that the potential for graphene applications is only limited by time and imagination," says the university's Web page on the latest findings about the material.
Phones are not only the application that graphene technology could tap into, the material would be of extensive help in the medical field such as in hospitals and care homes.
"The potential applications for this research are huge – whether it be for health monitoring, mobile communications or applications attached to skin for monitoring or messaging," said Dr. Zhirun Hu of the University of Manchester's School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering.
A hospital patient could wear a printed graphene Radio Frequency Identification Device tag on the arm, which would allow the staff to monitor data as regards the patient's heartbeat and body temperature by wireless means, significantly simplifying patient care.
Similarly, elderly residents could have battery-free printed graphene sensors printed on their clothes. These sensors would detect, gather and send back information as regards their health conditions to designated access points.
Unlike silver nanoparticles and conductive polymers, which are either far too costly or not conductive enough to achieve the desired effect, graphene is cheap and ultra-conductive.
Graphene is a single layer of pure carbon atoms, arranged in a six-sided lattice pattern. It is over 200 times stronger than steel – the strongest material known to science.