Hierarchical Graphene-Based Films with Dynamic Self-Stiffening for Biomimetic Artificial Muscle

ZH Dai and YL Wang and LQ Liu and XL Liu and PH Tan and ZP Xu and J Kuang and Q Liu and J Lou and Z Zhang, ADVANCED FUNCTIONAL MATERIALS, 26, 7003-7010 (2016).

DOI: 10.1002/adfm.201503917

Biological tissues such as muscle cells can adapt their structural and mechanical response upon external mechanical stimuli. Conversely, artificial muscles, intended to reproduce the salient functional features of biological muscles, usually undergo mechanical fatigue when subjected to dynamic stress. Besides passively improving the resilience to dynamic loads, here, it is reported that macroscopic films based on graphene and its chemical derivate exhibit an increase in modulus by up to 84% after subjected to a low-amplitude (0.1%) dynamic tension. Through a combination of experimental testing and molecular dynamics simulations, the unique self-stiffening behavior is attributed to the straightening and reorientation of graphene sheets and is further tuned through tailoring interlayer adhesion. Meanwhile, artificial muscles based on graphene films are designed and interestingly improved stiffness of our muscle materials after "training" are demonstrated. These results help to harness the stiffening mechanism and can be useful for the development of adaptable structural materials for biomechanical applications.

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