Scientists from the University of Rice have created an elastic, changing material that is capable of moving from one complex shape to another when the temperature changes.
The material includes liquid crystals and elastomer, which in the nanoscale lead a continuous struggle for control over each other. Under normal conditions, liquid crystals prevail, which take a pre-programmed form, but with an increase in temperature, their influence weakens and they are blurred in the elastomer, similar to rubber. The process is similar to the melting of ice in water, we turn, and makes it possible to restore the previous structure.
During the tests, various complex figures were formed from the samples: Persons, LEGO Block, Flower and University Logo. In room temperature, they are in solid state and have a certain form, but when heated to 80 ° C is melted, becoming absolutely flat. After the cessation of thermal exposure, it takes a few minutes to restore the structure.
According to scientists, the easiest way was to program a liquid crystal state. As soon as the material is granted the desired form, it takes only five minutes of exposure to ultraviolet light to form a crystalline order. They also say that the material is capable not only to make the transition between 2D and 3D shape, but also from one three-dimensional to another.
In the future, researchers plan to reduce the movement of the transition and develop an option responding to light. Such materials can be used to create flexible robots that imitate living organisms, or medical equipment components requiring changes in the shape influenced by heat. It can also be used to create tactile smartphone buttons, which occur when touched or dynamic braille text.
Team of engineers from the Livemore National Laboratory. Lawrence has developed another option