According to a report by Chris Kocher of BingUNews, researchers at Binghamton University are recycling old CDs and turning them into flexible biosensors capable of some pretty impressive things.

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A paper published in Nature.com by Matthew Brown, Louis Somma, Melissa Mendoza, Gretchen Mahler and Ahyeon Koh shows how compact discs can be turned into flexible biosensors in a cheap, easy, and quick way. The idea originated with a question on how to reduce electronic waste to reduce its impact on the environment.

In the conclusion of their paper, they wrote "To date, researchers have presented methods to recycle CD waste into electrochemical sensors for scalable and cheap protocols. However, thus far, they have failed to demonstrate mechanically durable biosensor platforms for practical wearable applications. Our study addresses this limitation. These CDs can be transformed into soft bioelectronics for noninvasive monitoring, while fully integrating with human skin."

So how does it work? The simple explanation is that by soaking a CD in acetone and using a mechanical cutter and polyimide tape, they were able to harvest the metal from the CD and produce a thin metal film. Then they could easily cut, shape and insulate the metal and add a few more things to produce bioelectronics.

In Kocher's report, Department of Biomedical Engineering Assistant Professor Ahyeon Koh said "When you pick up your hair on your clothes with sticky tape, that is essentially the same mechanism. We loosen the layer of metals from the CD and then pick up that metal layer with tape, so we just peel it off. That thin layer is then processed and flexible."

The entire process takes about half an hour to complete, and costs just $1.50 per device, making this a cheap, quick and effective way to turn old CDs that would have simply taken up space in landfills and turn them into something that could actually improve people's lives. It's so easy in fact, that Koh stated "We also could have more generalized step-by-step instructions on how to make them in a day, without any engineering skills. Everybody can create those kinds of sensors for their users. We want these to become more accessible and affordable, and more easily distributed to the public."

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