A shock absorber which can protect electronic devices like cell phones, tablets and laptops from accidental damage has been designed at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bangalore.
The researchers used graphene, a material made up of just a single layer of carbon, for the purpose.
Graphene, known to be 300 times stronger than steel and is finding wide use in the semiconductor and electronics industries, can potentially replace carbon nano tubes (CNT) and metal-based shock absorbers, says a Gubbi Labs release.
Elaborating on this discovery, Abha Misra, who led the study, said, "Graphene was made into a 3-dimensional network structure known as graphene foam. This light weight foam, akin to a sponge, is composed of an extremely thin layer of graphene. Its density is only 0.54 g per cubic cm, as compared to 7.87 and 2.7 g per cubic cm of iron and aluminium respectively."
Since graphene foam has very strong atomic bonds, its load bearing capacity is extraordinarily high. When graphene foam is integrated with PDMS (polydimethyl siloxane), it results in a material that is very flexible, The graphene foam-PDMS composite (GF-PDMS) also has a load bearing capacity that is six times higher than just graphene foam. Moreover, it can be re-used.
Another distinct advantage of using GF-PDMS in shock absorbers is that it can be subjected to several cycles of operation with being deformed. On the other hand, metal-based shock absorbers cannot get back their original form once they are deformed and are permanently damaged. This novel material also shows excellent thermal and electrical conductivity.
"GF/PDMS are multi-functional and can be used for their mechanical as well as electronic properties", adds Misra.
Apart from being a promising shock absorber for electronic devices, which the team has demonstrated, the graphene foam-PDMS composite can be used in ion batteries and as gas sensors.
Thanks to this discovery, in the not-too-distant future, you may be able to drop your cellphone without skipping a heartbeat, the researchers say.