Photomechanical Response in Graphene Nanoplatelet Composites

J. Loomis, B. King, T. Burkhead, P. Xu, N. Bessler, E. Terentjev, B. Panchapakesan
University of Louisville, US

Keywords: carbon nanostructure, composite, photomechanical, actuation, graphene


Large light-induced reversible and elastic responses of graphene nanoplatelet (GNP) polymer composites are reported. Homogeneous mixtures of GNP/polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) composites (0.1–5 wt%) were prepared and their near-infrared (NIR) mechanical responses studied with increasing pre-strains. Using NIR illumination, a photomechanically induced change in stress of four orders of magnitude as compared to pristine PDMS polymer was measured. The actuation responses of the graphene polymer composites depended on the applied pre-strains. At low levels of pre-strain (3–9%) the actuators showed reversible expansion while at high levels (15–40%) the actuators exhibited reversible contraction. The GNP/PDMS composites exhibited higher actuation stresses compared to other forms of nanostructured carbon/PDMS composites, including carbon nanotubes (CNTs), for the same fabrication method. An optical-to-mechanical energy conversion factor (M) of 7–9 MPa W-1 for GNP-based polymer composite actuators is reported.