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November 26, 2012 AT 1:00 am

Scotch tape finds new use as grasping ‘smart material’

Ziaie-Grippers

Scotch tape finds new use as grasping ‘smart material’.

Scotch tape, a versatile household staple and a mainstay of holiday gift-wrapping, may have a new scientific application as a shape-changing “smart material.”

Researchers used a laser to form slender half-centimeter-long fingers out of the tape. When exposed to water, the four wispy fingers morph into a tiny robotic claw that captures water droplets.

The innovation could be used to collect water samples for environmental testing, said Babak Ziaie, a Purdue University professor of electrical and computer engineering and biomedical engineering.

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