'Smart' Rubber Bands Are on Their Way

Adding graphene could mean major upgrades to an old standby.

Since they were patented in 1845, rubber bands have been put to a staggering variety of uses. If one rubber band manufacturer is to be believed, there's about to be a lot more, as science is set to create a major upgrade to the old office standby.

According to a story on Science Alert, the world’s largest rubber band maker, Alliance, Ohio’s, Alliance Rubber Co., is working with researchers to create unbreakable rubber bands that will also be traceable and responsive to external stimuli. This all thanks to the addition of the space-age material graphene, which is said to be 200 times stronger than steel.

By adding graphene to traditional rubber bands, they could be made virtually indestructible. These bands could also be embedded with RFID tags for tracking, or made to change color as a function of time or temperature. As Science Alert notes, they will be static-resistant, making them perfect for shipping electronics, or they could be designed to change color based on the age and health of produce. Think of it as rubber band 2.0.

Alliance Rubber is working with a British research firm to find the ideal ratio of graphene to rubber, so the future is still a bit off. But sooner rather than later, even the humble rubber band is going to get smart.