Elastic vanadium pentoxide paper
Ceramics are among the oldest materials manipulated by humans, and their properties of rigidity and brittleness are quite familiar. Scientists at the University of Stuttgart Institute for Materials Science have demonstrated that ceramics can be made to behave in unexpected ways—such as to emulate the behavior of paper.
Ceramic paper is flexible enough to be folded or rolled up like paper, yet is stronger than mother-of-pearl. It is also electrically conductive—another characteristic that distinguishes it from conventional ceramics. The researchers make ceramic paper by synthesizing vanadium pentoxide nanofibers in a water-soluble vanadium salt. The fibers aggregate to form a paper-like film when distributed across a substrate and align themselves in parallel orientations to create a linear grain.
The material is not only harder than mother-of-pearl, but also exhibits elastic properties. These characteristics, in combination with electrical conductivity, make it suitable for a variety of future uses in batteries, sensors, and artificial muscle actuators.
Contact: Stuttgart University Institute of Material Science, Stuttgart, Germany.
For more information, see Transmaterial Next: A Catalog of Materials that Redefine Our Future