Now, super rubber that does things science says rubber never can do

December 3rd, 2010 - 1:17 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Dec 3 (ANI): Japanese scientists have created a new kind of carbon-based rubber that conducts electricity, could withstand extreme temperatures of space and even eventually power your iPod.

The new carbon nanotube rubber is part of a class of materials known as viscoelastic materials - which can be twisted, punched, rolled, kicked, stretched and bent — yet return to their original shape.

The new material doesn’t shatter or melt, even under temperatures far, far beyond what rubber could endure, reports Discovery News.

“Even at 1000 degree Centigrade when aluminium will melt and steel will soften, the new material keeps its shape,” said Yury Gogotsi, a scientist at Drexel University.

“Any rubber or polymer in general will become brittle” under very cold conditions and could break, said Gogotsi, “but the nanotube rubber will keep bouncing.”

This means it could be used in everything from spacecraft to car shock absorbers, said Roderic Lakes, a scientist at the University of Wisconsin who studies viscoelastic materials.

Spacecraft equipped with this material could withstand the intense cold of Jupiter’s largest moon, Titan, said Gogotsi, or the heat of the sun in space, said Lakes.

Pick up a wrinkled shirt made with carbon rubber and the fibers would return to their original shape. A shoe with a sole of super rubber would not only save a person’s knees from wear and tear, it could also help consumers save a little on their electric bill.

Placed in a shoe or a car’s shock absorber, the material could eventually harvest and even store electricity generated from a quick walk around the block or a bumpy late night drive to the supermarket.

However, carbon nanotube-based rubber is expensive and won’t be available to consumers for a while.

“It was fairly simple to make,” said Ming Xu, a scientist at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Japan, but “manufacturing on a large scale has not yet been developed.”

The research was published today in the journal Science. (ANI)

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