Researchers from the University of Rochester have conceived a material designed for surgical applications and, according to their findings, the shape-shifting super polymer has some surprises for everyone.
Apparently, the strange material has the ability to change its shape and also lift an impressive amount of weight. The shape of the polymer transforms completely when it gets in contact with a person’s body heat, thus enabling it to lift a mass that it 1,000 times heavier than its own.
Scientist Mitch Anthamatten explains in a video how it’s possible for the newly-designed material to go through such a metamorphosis from a simple human touch. The chemical engineer says that their polymer is similar to a rubber band, which can remain fixed into a new shape when it’s being stretched.
Seeing how the material is directly affected by human heat, it could make it a viable option for surgeries and also for a new type of spandex outerwear.
The researchers did find the polymer tricky in one respect, though. They were not able to control its crystallization process. Other materials similar to it can realign their atomic strands when they are stretched or cooled, which makes it difficult to bring the object to its original form.
With this new polymer, however, the scientists had to use certain linkers in order to connect the molecules, which means that crystallization was automatically removed. By succeeding to control the position of the linkers, the team was able to affect the material’s turning point.
What is indeed impressive is that this super polymer is able to lift 1,000 times its weight. Because researchers created this material from 1/28th of an ounce, this means it has the capacity to lift a one-liter bottle of water.
This groundbreaking advancement could bring incredible changes in terms of artificial skin, sutures or self-fitting clothes.
As Anthamatten explains, capturing the body temperature is not the only performance that the team achieved with this material. They were also able to engineer the polymer, so that it can store vast amounts of elastic energy. This will allow it to upgrade their mechanical process in the shape recovery phase.
Polymers that change their shape when exposed to different temperatures have been invented before, but what is truly revolutionary about this product is the connection it makes to human heat. This is the first material of its kind to actually respond to the human touch.
Image Source: Valuewalk