Researchers from China have turned a sheet of graphene oxide into a material that bends when exposed to moisture, which they used to create a spider-like crawler and claw robot that move in response to changing humidity conditions without the need for any external power.
The researchers stated that “Our very simple method for making typical graphene oxides smart is also extremely efficient. A sheet can be prepared within one second”. They also reported that graphene oxide sheets treated with brief exposure to bright light in the form of a camera flash exhibited reversible bending at angles from zero to 85 degrees in response to switching the relative humidity between 33 and 86 percent. They also demonstrated that their method is repeatable and the simple robots they created have good stability.
While other materials that can respond to humidity exist, the team experimented with graphene-based materials because they are incredibly thin and have unique properties such as flexibility, conductivity, mechanical strength and biocompatibility. These properties have the potential to make graphene ideal for broad applications in various fields. For example, the material’s excellent biocompatibility could allow moisture-responsive graphene oxide to be used in organ-on-a-chip systems that simulate the mechanics and physiological response of entire organs and are used for drug discovery and other biomedical research.
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