There has long been, if you can say so, "soft robots". As a rule, they are made of elastic materials such as rubber or plastic. However, the invention of Singapore scientists can easily reverse the idea of robotics. After all, they have managed to create a "folding metal" that can literally be "rolled into an accordion". And he will not lose his qualities.
How to make a "flexible metal"
Today, soft robots are usually made from folded plastic or paper sheets. Sensors, circuit boards, batteries and cables are mounted on the surface of the robots, making them bulkier, heavier and less flexible.
According to the publication of the New Atlas, scientists at the National University of Singapore have developed a new material that is very similar (and sometimes even metal) to metal, but its structure is rather unusual.
Strangely, plain paper is the centerpiece of this "fast metal". This paper initially folds like an accordion and is then placed in graphene oxide, where the paper is coated with a thin layer of this graphene. Subsequently, the resulting material is immersed in a solution of platinum ions (gold or silver may also be used for these purposes). In the next stage, the material is fired in a flame obtained by burning gaseous argon at a temperature of 800 degrees Celsius, and in the last stage is again fired, but in a flame of burning oxygen at a temperature of 500 degrees Celsius.
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This process results in a material consisting of 70% metal (platinum in this case) and 30% amorphous carbon. To stabilize the material, it is impregnated with an elastomer solution. The result is flexible, elastic and elastic material whose thickness is only 90 microns. It weighs half as much paper, but unlike the latter, it conducts the stream perfectly.
Why do you need "flexible metal"
The material itself can withstand a temperature of 800 degrees for 5 minutes before it begins to melt and collapse. Lower temperatures are practically not afraid of him. Such features make it possible to create robots for working in dangerous conditions where other devices just can not stand it. Experiments have shown that the new material reacts to mechanical stresses and is therefore suitable for the production of sensors. This can also lead to the development of pressure and voltage sensors that are "embedded in the metal".
In addition, a new substance may be referred to as an antenna capable of sending information to the same antennas made of the same substance. Such robots can thus communicate wirelessly with each other. How do you like this "flexible metal"? Write your opinion in our chat in telegram.
Scientists are currently looking for ways to replace platinum with cheaper metals such as copper. It is worth noting that the new substance has the potential for energy storage. So it can also be used as a battery. However, scientists still need to check this in practice.