Electrically powered repeatable air explosions using microtubular graphene assemblies
Controllable rapid expansion and activation of gases is important for a variety of applications, including combustion engines, thrusters, actuators, catalysis, and sensors. Typically, the activation of macroscopic gas volumes is based on ultra-fast chemical reactions, which require fuel and are irreversible. An "electrically powered explosion", i.e., the rapid increase in temperature of a macroscopic relevant gas volume induced by an electrical power pulse, is a feasible repeatable and clean
... atable and clean alternative, providing adaptable non-chemical power on demand. Till now, the fundamental problem was to find an efficient transducer material that converts electrical energy into an immediate temperature increase of a sufficient gas volume. To overcome these limitations, we developed electrically powered repeatable air explosions (EPRAE) based on free-standing graphene layers of nanoscale thickness in the form of microtubes that are interconnected to a macroscopic framework. These low-density and highly permeable graphene foams are characterized by heat capacities comparable to air. The EPRAE process facilitates cyclic heating of cm 3 -sized air volumes to several 100°C for more than 100,000 cycles, heating rates beyond 300,000 K s À1 and repetition rates of several Hz. It enables pneumatic actuators with the highest observed output power densities (>40 kW kg À1 ) and strains $100%, as well as tunable microfluidic pumps, gas flowmeters, thermophones, and microthrusters. ⇑ Corresponding authors.