Graphene good shock absorber to protect fallen gadgets: IISc scientists

Ever cringed in helplessness and frustration as your phone or tablet accidently dropped on the ground? The use of expensive electronic devices/gadgets has been growing exponentially but a protection mechanism by which they can be saved from such accidental damage has not yet been fully developed. 

This may change soon as a team of scientists at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) has studied the possibility of designing shock absorbers that use graphene—a pure carbon that is extremely light and about 100 times stronger than steel—and that can be used in such devices. 

The study was published online in the international journal on chemical sciences ‘RSC Advances’ on September 23. 

In a press release issued by the institute’s science media centre, Abha Misra, assistant professor at the Department of Instrumentation and Applied Physics (IAP), IISc, who led the study, said, “Graphene was made into a three-dimensional network structure known as graphene foam. This lightweight foam, akin to a sponge, is composed of an extremely thin layer of graphene. Its density is only 0.54 gram per cubic centimetre, as compared to 7.87 and 2.7 gram per cubic centimetre of iron and aluminium respectively.” 

In the study, the scientists integrated graphene foam with polydimethyl siloxane (PDMS), a silicon-based organic polymer that is widely used in the food industry as well as in the medicine and cosmetics industry. 

While graphene foam by itself is very strong, its combination with PDMS gives it flexibility and a load-bearing capacity that is around six times higher than just graphene foam. Moreover, it also has a higher capacity to retain its form once deformed as compared to metal-based shock absorbers. 

“Graphene foam/PDMS are multi-functional and can be used for their mechanical as well as electronic properties,” Misra added.  Since its discovery in 2003, graphene has been widely used in the semiconductors and electronics industry. 

Day by day, scientists have been trying to develop new applications for the material due to its varied and impressive properties. 

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