Engineers demonstrate paper and pencil combination that could help monitor health conditions

Researchers from the University of Missouri have demonstrated an exciting combination of pencils and paper that could be used to draw devices to monitor the personal health of people at home. Much research is being conducted into the use of flexible electronics and sensors that can be worn on the body to capture health-related information.

In the study, the researchers discovered that pencils containing more than 90% graphite can conduct a high amount of energy created from the friction between paper and pencil caused by drawing or writing. The team discovered that pencils with 93% graphite were the best for creating a variety of on-skin bio-electronic devices drawn on commercial office copy paper.

Biocompatible spray-on adhesive to be applied to the paper that would stick to the person's skin. The team believes that the discovery could have broad applications in the future for home-based, personalized healthcare, education, and promote scientific research. Biomedical components, such as electrophysiological, temperature, and biochemical sensors.

The team believes in the future that people with a sleep issue, for instance, would be able to draw a biomedical device that could monitor sleep levels. Teachers in the classroom could engage students by incorporating the creation of wearable devices using pencils and paper into a lesson plan.

Another major benefit is that the paper used to create the sensors decomposes in about a week. Many commercial devices containing sensor components aren't easily broken down. Devices that aren't easily broken down contribute significantly to medical waste and landfill. It's unclear when, or if, this technology might arrive for commercial applications.