ERJ staff report (BC)
Durham, North Carolina - Despite many extraordinary properties, graphene (a one-atom thick carbon lattice structure) has a stickiness which makes it difficult to flatten out once crumpled.
Engineers at Duke University have found that by attaching graphene to an elastic polymer film, they can crumple and then unfold the material reversibly, lending it to a range of applications.
One "soft" version of the Duke material acts like an artificial muscle. When an electic potential is applied, the material expands, and when the potential is switched off, it contracts. The team was able to control the degree of contraction and relaxation by varying the voltage.
Future robots may use the new rubberised graphene and other carbon-based alternatives as a kind of muscle tissue that would more closely replicate their biological counterparts than the current pneumatically powered analogues.
Disabled people could benefit from affordable devices such as lightweight prostheses and full-page Braille displays.
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