Wafer-thin nanopaper changes from firm to soft at the touch of a button

Science Daily  March 24, 2021
Mimicking the sea cucumbers which adapt and strengthen their tissue so that their soft exterior immediately stiffens when attacked by predators, researchers in Germany have developed a mechanism to strengthen and stiffen a material using electric current. They developed cellulose nanofibrils/polymer nanopapers with tailor-made interactions by deposition of thin single-walled carbon nanotube electrode layers for Joule heating. Application of DC at specific voltages translates into significant electrothermal softening via dynamization and breakage of the thermo-reversible supramolecular bonds. The altered mechanical properties are reversibly switchable in power on/power off cycles. Currently a power source is needed to start the reaction and manually turn the power on and off to control stiffness. Their goal is to produce a material with its own energy storage system. The work opens avenues for bioinspired nanocomposites for facile application in adaptive damping and structural materials, and soft robotics…read more. Open Access TECHNICAL ARTICLE

Electrical switching of bioinspired nanocomposites based on CNF and hydrogen-bonded polymers… Credit: Nature Communications volume 12, Article number: 1312 (2021)

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