#TechTuesday: Graphene for wearable UV sensors
Graphene is changing the wearable technology landscape. Graphene Flagship partners have developed a wearable UV sensor that can empower us to continuously monitor and proactively limit our UV exposure.
Current research by the World Health Organisation shows that between 2 and 3 million skin cancers occur globally each year. The majority of these cancers can be associated with ultraviolet radiation (UV). Damage from UV exposure is cumulative and increases a person’s cancer risk over time, by creating a build-up of skin cell DNA damage and subsequent growth of malignant tumours.
Overexposure to UV rays is a powerful attack on the skin, and also leads to other undesirable affects such as premature aging, eye diseases, and sunspots.
UV radiation is part of the natural energy produced by the sun. On the electromagnetic spectrum, UV light has shorter wavelengths than visible light – but higher energy. Although your eyes can’t see UV, your skin can feel it. It’s hard to manage what we can’t measure, so how can we control the exposure? Now, graphene-enabled wearable technology is pushing the boundaries of what is possible.
The last five years have seen a steady increase in digital wellness wearables that can collect data in real time and reveal the physical and chemical properties of the body to evaluate wellness. Graphene’s outstanding properties in flexibility, conductivity, and transparency make it an ideal candidate for accurate and discrete wearables devices.
Graphene Flagship researchers from ICFO, Spain, have developed a wearable patch which enables the user to monitor the UV index and their level of exposure to sunlight through a UV sensor. Designed as a flexible, transparent and disposable patch, it connects to a mobile device and alerts the user once a defined threshold of sun exposure has been reached.
The personalised technology provides updates in real-time, meaning the user can take immediate action to limit their exposure, such as applying sunscreen, moving to a shaded area, or wearing an additional layer. The app is even capable of monitoring exposure trends over time. Learn more about the graphene-enabled UV sensors in the video above!