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Layered ceramic paper: Scanning electron micrographs show the stacked layers of vanadium pentoxide and water in the composite. The material is so elastic and tough that it can be bent (right-hand image). Parallel order: The image from an atom force microscopy shows that the nanofibres in the ceramic paper lie together, predominantly oriented in the same direction. © Advanced Materials/Stuttgart University

A folding ceramic

A sophisticated nanostructure renders a wafer-thin paper made of electrically conductive vanadium pentoxide fibres both tough and pliable

  • 27 March 2013

Scientists in Stuttgart are currently doing things to a ceramic, which would normally result in a pile of shards. They were the first to produce a paper-like material from a vanadium pentoxide ceramic which is as hard as copper, yet flexible enough to be rolled up or folded. The material is also different from other ceramics, as it is electrically conductive. In a project funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), the scientists from Stuttgart University, the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems and the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research produced the ceramic paper consisting of conductive nanofibres of vanadium pentoxide in a straightforward and simple way. The ceramic paper’s special mechanical properties are derived from its structure, which resembles that of mother-of-pearl. The material looks promising for applications in batteries, flat and flexible gas sensors and actuators in artificial muscles.


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