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Smart Material Is Here To Revolutionize The Trajectory Of Material Science

Just think, if it would have been possible to cross the poincare’s limit and change a solid coil to a solid sphere, hypothetically it would have changed the course of material science. Now, putting the mathematically impossible event aside, if a solid ball could be changed to a solid cube, this transformation itself might provide immense flexibility on usage and corresponding terms. Seems like the day is near when hypothesis will be synonymous to practical applications as researchers from the Washington State University has developed the next generation smart material which changes its shape if heat or light is applied on it.

Team lead professor Michael Kessler and his subordinates, for the first time discovered a material which integrates several aspects including shape memory behavior, phototactic movement and self-healing response. Summing up all, the material is called smart because it pretends to possess a semi-functional brain. Owing to external stimuli, the material seems to change its native shape, fold and unfold, get dismantled in parts and again reunites. Application wise, it could be used as the base of solar panel which folds or unfolds according to the need of the primary system.

Shape-shifting, Self-healing, material with brain

Although the material might power up vast applications, generally industries tend to avoid because of its making procedure. In fact, the team lead revealed that the WSU team faced number of challenges to reprocess the material that might help to repeat some required characteristics in it. The team devised the multifunctional smart material with the help of a specific type of long-chain molecules termed as liquid crystalline networks. This basically provides order in a fixed direction, embedding unique properties to the material. In the next step, the team enforced heat responsive groups of atoms which mould the shape of the material according to the need.

Furthermore phototactic behavior is imposed upon it coupled with dynamic chemical bonds to boost the chemical’s reprocessing abilities. Kessler implied that his team has taken an approach to join multidisciplinary sections in the same experiment to get the best results. The new breed output not only works as a shape shifting material, rather it retains its memory and based upon that folds or unfolds and self-heal if damaged. While the research is at its nascent stage, commercialization of the product will heavily change the foundation of consumer electronics, machines and aerodynamic models for spaceships and many more. The complete research has been published in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

Source: ACS

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