We’ve all played with paper airplanes. It’s fun. But some folks are playing with serious paper airplanes. Smart ones. We’ll take a look, today on Engineering Works!
Some people are really into paper airplanes. The world record for a level paper airplane flight is more than 20 seconds. If that doesn’t sound like very long, try it sometime.
Paper airplanes some engineers are thinking about could make that 20-second flight seem like the blink of an eye. The new airplanes are made of what’s called electroactive paper. Electroactive paper starts out like the paper $10 bills are printed on. With carbon nanotubes added for strength — and a thin layer of gold on each side.
The gold layers conduct electricity and things get really interesting when you apply that electricity. The paper bends — a lot. You can see where this is going — a paper airplane that flies by flapping its wings. An airplane like that could stay in the air a long time — hours, probably. The engineers who came up with the new paper – at Texas A&M University and a university in Korea – say airplanes built from it could be a lot more than a toy.
They could carry miniaturized surveillance equipment. It’d be cheap. A swarm of them could be the eyes and ears of a surveillance network. The possibilities go on forever.
We’ve used up our possibilities for this time, so we’ll flap on out of here. See you next time.