Self-folding graphene paper can be used in micro-robots and artificial body parts

Graphene paper, with the ability to fold itself, could be used to create miniature robots to artificial muscles, a new study says.

Scientists from Donghua University in China experimented with a sheet of graphene paper, being 200 times stronger than steel by weight. By applying a certain amount of heat to the material, it folds itself into a device that can walk forward and backward, and also change directions.

How does the graphene fold itself? Scientists treated certain sections of the graphene paper, making them to naturally absorb particles of water out of the vapor from the atmosphere. So, when the graphene gets heated, the water is released, causing the shrink and bend of the material. As the heat stops, the process goes in the opposite way.

Using this method in a well-designed device, it could bring us objects such as the walking device, and an artificial hand with the ability to hold and grasp objects five times heavier than the hand itself. They determine the 3D form that the paper is going to fold to by altering the placement of the treated areas.