16:52 GMT11 April 2021
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    Chinese scientists have used graphene to make self-folding paper which can change shape, walk and turn a corner, under the influence of light or heat.

    Material scientists from Donghua University in Shanghai have designed graphene paper that is able to fold itself like origami, and use its power to walk, turn a corner, and change its shape.

    "Origami, the ancient art of paper folding, has inspired the design of various self-folding structures and devices for modern applications including remote control robotics, microfluidic chemical analysis, tissue engineering, and artificial muscles," the researchers explain in their paper, which was published in the journal Science Advances on Friday

    "Self-folding structures are rapidly emerging at the frontier of scientific and technological innovation because of their capability to perform programmed folding/unfolding motions without being kinematically manipulated by external forces or moments."

    The scientists made the self-folding paper from graphene oxide and polydopamine, to create nanosheets that absorb or exude water molecules in response to environmental humidity, temperature, or light, causing the sheet to swell or shrink.

    This property allowed them to control the paper remotely using gentle light or heating. Along with the excellent conductive properties, high flexibility and mechanical robustness of the graphene sheet, this gives it great potential for a wide range of applications. 

    The researchers say their device can be used to make sensors, artificial muscles, and robots, and provide a practical method for printing the paper on a large scale.


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