Monash University researchers have designed a graphene-based stretchable material that can snap back into shape after being deformed. This new elastomer, called G-elastomer, could be used to create soft, tactile robots, perform remote surgical procedures or build highly sensitive prosthetic hands.

The G-elastomer is highly sensitive to pressure and vibrations. Unlike other viscoelastic substances, such as polyurethane foam or rubber, G-elastomer bounces back extremely quickly under pressure, despite its exceptionally soft nature. It is flexible, ultra-light and can detect pressures and vibrations across a broad bandwidth of frequencies. It far exceeds the response range of human skin, and it also has a very fast response time, much faster than conventional polymer elastomer. The sensitivity and response time of G-elastomer could allow a prosthetic hand or a robot to be even more dexterous than a human, while the flexibility could allow the creation of next generation flexible electronic devices. Although still in early stages, this research is a substancial breakthrough.