Researchers from the University of Houston have demonstrated “giant flexoelectricity” in soft elastomers that could improve robot movement range and make self-powered pacemakers a real possibility. The phenomenon engineers ordinary substances like silicone rubber into an electric powerhouse.
This theory engineers a connection between electricity and mechanical motion in soft rubber-like materials. The term for these multifunctional soft elastomers with increased capability is “giant flexoelectricity.”
The potential uses are profound. Human-like robots made with soft-elastomers that contain increased flexoelectric properties would be capable of a greater range of motion to perform physical tasks. Pacemakers implanted in human hearts and utilizing lithium batteries could instead be self-powered as natural movement generates electrical power.