Remember meForgot password?
    Log in with Twitter

Graphene elastomer is more sensitive than human skin

By Tim Sandle     Jan 26, 2016 in Science
A new material, sponge-like and based on graphene, exhibits a high sensitivity. It could be the basis of next-generation robots.
Robotics is slowly advancing. In Japan, in particular, new robots are launched with much fanfare each year. An example recently was an android-like robot that will greet you on arrival to a hotel. Despite much promise, the level of sophisticated remains limited.
However, future predictions are that one day an android of some level of sentience will appear (perhaps like those from the recent television series Humans.) While most of the research has been into the inner workings of a robot, Monash University researchers have focused on the outside — the synthetic skin.
The research group have created a graphene-based sponge-like material. The elastomer could create the outer covering of soft, tactile robots or be used as a prosthetic hand. Graphene is important to the design. Graphene is a carbon-based material, incredibly light and strong. Graphene is a one atom thick form of graphite and it has many useful properties relating to strength, flexibility and conductivity. Developments with graphene have been regularly covered on the Digital Journal’s science pages.
The new elastomer is dubbed “G-elastomer” and has proven to be sensitive to varying degrees of pressure and vibration. Vibrations were assessed using a broad-bandwidth of frequencies. Once pressed, the material quickly reforms back into its original shape (unlike rubber.) The material is also very light.
Sensitivity is key to the new material. If a robot can be designed to hold a cup of coffee, it will need to assess how strongly to grip the cup, as so not to drop it or crush it. Material like G-elastomer could be the basis for this, and allow sufficient dexterity.
The study into the new material was led by Professor Dan Li and Dr. Ling Qiu, both based at the Monash Centre for Atomically Thin Materials (MCATM). The findings are published in the journal Advanced Materials. The paper is titled “Ultrafast Dynamic Piezoresistive Response of Graphene-Based Cellular Elastomers.”
More about Graphene, Elastomer, Human skin, Skin
More news from