Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

Now in our 9th year of bringing you beautiful imagery from biomedical science every day

09 October 2015

Atomic Dexterity

Origami is the ancient Japanese art form of folding paper into complex 3D structures. Kirigami is a variation that includes cutting the paper to create more intricate designs. Scientists have applied the latter technique to graphene, a material made of a honeycomb pattern of carbon atoms with many useful properties: 200 times stronger than steel by weight, it efficiently conducts heat and electricity and is nearly transparent. Graphene is made from incredibly thin sheets just one atom thick, a stack of 140,000 equalling the thickness of a piece of paper. Graphene kirigami can be used to build mechanical metamaterials – materials engineered to have properties that haven’t been found in nature – such as stretchable electrodes, hinges, and springs (as shown here). With these unique properties at the atomic scale, this technology could help create medical sensors able to monitor single cells or nanoscale robots keeping us healthy from inside our bodies.

Written by Kevin Pollock

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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