Scientists Make Smart Self-folding Material

Saturday, March 5, 2016 - 19:42

Chinese researchers have produced a smart material which can be programmed multiple times to fold itself into complex shapes, without being melted down.

A short flash of heat can trigger the rubbery polymer to fold itself into an origami bird and then into a boat, following another blast of heat. The fact which is remarkable is that the polymer can do this over and over, without wearing down.

Researchers of Zhejiang University in China believed that the material could help scientists make reusable medical devices or aerospace structures that can shape-shift into structures that would otherwise be impossible to create.

“The smart polymer knows which shape to make because it's programmed like a computer,” explained Xie, a materials scientist at Zhejiang University in China and a co-author of the study.

The current form of the polymer should cost about the same as the plastics that are commonly in use everyday but the researchers are also working on a version of the polymer that can work at lower temperatures.

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