A team of researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has developed a new process to make flexible, conducting “nano skins” for a variety of applications, from electronic paper to sensors for detecting chemical and biological agents. The materials, which are described in the March issue of the journal Nano Letters,
combine the strength and conductivity of carbon nanotubes with the flexibility of traditional polymers.
The team has developed a new procedure that allows them to grow an array of nanotubes on a separate platform and then fill the array with a soft polymer. When the polymer hardens, it is essentially peeled back from the platform, leaving a flexible skin with organized arrays of nanotubes embedded throughout. The skins can be bent, flexed, and rolled up like a scroll, all while maintaining their ability to conduct electricity, which makes them ideal materials for electronic paper and other flexible electronics, according to Pulickel Ajayan
, the Henry Burlage Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
pdf file of the Nano Letter paper is available at the Prof. Ajayan's group website
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