January 26, 2016

New Graphene Exceeds Sensitivity of Human Skin

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A new graphene-based cellular elastomer, or G-elastomer, has been developed by researchers at Monash University (Monash), Melbourne, Australia, and the sponge-like material could have diverse and valuable real-life applications. The new elastomer could be used to create soft, tactile robots to help care for elderly people, perform remote surgical procedures, or build highly sensitive prosthetic hands.

The G-elastomer is highly sensitive to pressure and vibrations. Unlike other viscoelastic substances such as polyurethane foam or rubber, G-elastomer bounces back extremely quickly under pressure, despite its exceptionally soft nature.

“This graphene elastomer is a flexible, ultralight material which can detect pressures and vibrations across a broad bandwidth of frequencies. It far exceeds the response range of our skin, and it also has a very fast response time, much faster than conventional polymer elastomer,” said Ling Qiu, PhD, from the Monash Centre for Atomically Thin Materials (MCATM). “The sensitivity and response time of G-elastomer could allow a prosthetic hand or a robot to be even more dexterous than a human, while the flexibility could allow us to create next generation flexible electronic devices.”

Qiu’s research was published in the January 8 edition of the journal Advanced Materials and is protected by a suite of patents.

Editor’s note: This story was adapted from material provided by Monash University.

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