Imagine a liner for a circular hole, which becomes square when illuminated, and when heated, it is suitable for a triangular notch. Rather stupid thing, unlike the technology itself metamaterials with the function of switching between programmed stable forms. It was developed at the University of Colorado in a team led by a distinguished scientist Christopher Bowman.
The new material consists of new components – liquid crystal elastomers. It is a mesh structure with a grid of flexible elastomer, inside the cells of which there are liquid crystals. They have the property of self-organization and state change under the influence of light and heat, and the movements of individual crystals force the shape and their frame to change, which causes the whole structure to move.
In the simplest example of the new material made a kind of figure-origami in the form of a swan. This is a fairly complex, three-dimensional design, with pronounced detail. Then the figure was heated to 93 ° C and it turned, turned into a flat sheet, which once again turns itself into a swan. So far, scientists have the ability to program only two stable states, but this is a matter of further research.
The technology is purely experimental and there is no question of its commercial application at all. There will be no spy bracelets tomorrow, which are transformed into a gun, if you shine a flashlight on them. And the performance properties of new materials leave much to be desired. But imagine an artificial muscle that shrinks and stretches without applying energy or robot manipulators that do not require servos to switch between operating states. Technology of the future!
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