Crumpled graphene and rubber combined to form artificial muscleSubmitted by Bob-45 on Mon, 01/28/2013 - 11:15
By Jason Falconer
January 24, 2013
Despite its numerous wondrous properties, a propensity to stick together and be difficult to flatten out once crumpled can make working with graphene difficult and limit its applications. Engineers at Duke University have now found that by attaching graphene to a stretchy polymer film, they are able to crumple and then unfold the material, resulting in a properties that lend it to a broader range of applications, including artificial muscles.
Before adhering the graphene to the rubber film, the researchers first pre-stretched the film to multiple times its original size. The graphene was then attached and, as the rubber film relaxed, the graphene layer compressed and crumpled. This caused part of the graphene to detach from the rubber layer and resulted in an attached-detached pattern measuring just a few nanometers in size. It was this pattern that allowed the graphene to "unfold" when the rubber layer was stretched out again.
“In this way, the crumpling and unfolding of large-area atomic-thick graphene can be controlled by simply stretching and relaxing a rubber film, even by hand,” said Xuanhe Zhao, an Assistant Professor at the Pratt School of Engineering.