by Staff Writers
Pullman WA (SPX) Jul 03, 2016
Washington State University researchers have developed a unique, multifunctional smart material that can change shape from heat or light and assemble and disassemble itself. They have filed a provisional patent on the work.
This is the first time researchers have been able to combine several smart abilities, including shape memory behavior, light-activated movement and self-healing behavior, into one material. They have published their work in ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces.
The work is led by Michael Kessler, professor and Berry Family director and in the WSU School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering (MME), and Yuzhan Li, MME staff scientist, in collaboration with Orlando Rios, a researcher at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Adding functional versatility
But smart materials haven't come into widespread use because they are difficult to make and often can only perform one function at a time. Researchers also have struggled to reprocess the material so its special properties can continually repeat themselves.
The WSU research team developed a material that allows multiple functions at once with potential to add more.
Fold and unfold, remember and heal
"We knew these different technologies worked independently and tried to combine them in a way that would be compatible,'' said Kessler.
The resulting material reacts to light, can remember its shape as it folds and unfolds and can heal itself when damaged. For instance, a razor blade scratch in the material can be fixed by applying ultraviolet light. The material's movements can be preprogrammed and its properties tailored.
The Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers used facilities at their Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences to study the mechanisms responsible for the material's unique abilities.
The research is in keeping with WSU's Grand Challenges, a suite of research initiatives aimed at large societal issues. It is particularly relevant to the challenge of smart systems and its theme of foundational and emergent materials.
Washington State University
Space Technology News - Applications and Research
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