Have you noticed how inflatable, origami-based geometric structures and designs are always so interesting? Just like those, with an amazing innovation of high utility in every field where technology is applied, shape-shifting materials can bring in a whole new creation of highly flexible devices. They are considered as the highly reliable and creative type of innovation which can make structural changes in the devices, in any possible form. There are, therefore, immensely multifunctional for the fields of biotechnology, robotics, architecture, construction, electronics, space tech, and a wide range of general applications.
Known as the Totimorphic structural materials, these shape-shifting materials are created by the Harvard experts from John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS). They claim that these materials can change the way advanced technology devices are created, especially, in biotechnology and surgical and transplant devices. These materials are revolutionary, innovatively creative, and of high utility at the same time.
According to the experts, these totimorphic structural materials are very accommodating and conducive to the two main aspects of high utility: conformability and rigidity. By conformability, the experts mean the ability of a material to transform to any shape without breaking or creating any damage. Similarly, rigidity makes the material shift into another shape with ease and longevity without being too stiff to break. An appropriate amount of rigidity also locks the material into the newly taken shape in a stable way. The balance of these two properties, thus, in a material determines the flexibility and durability for creating anything from it.
While introducing this shape-shifting material, the researchers from Harvard explained how this material can convert a normal geometrical shape into a twisted or curved-shaped helix with various shapes and even bear the weight and maintain the rigidity flawlessly. With this ability, these materials can be used in devices made for architectural and robotics purposes, especially in sensors.
Also, combined with graphene plates, these materials can become highly flexible and of high utility in the electronics and gadgets industry. They can be safe, compact, and mobile in terms of creation and portability.
According to L Mahadevan, a senior researcher, “These structures allow for independent control of the geometry and mechanics, laying the foundation for engineering functional shapes using a new type of morphable unit cell.” This innovation is, therefore, a balanced blend of geometric structures and mechanical capacities that make this material much more functional.
Another benefit of these shape-shifting materials is that “they can be multifunctional and can fit into tiny chips or sensors. They are based on amazing geometric capabilities and that is the reason that they are so much flexible. They can create a new class of morphing, deforming, reshaping, and transformative materials in controlled mechanical ways, along with being aesthetically appealing due to the geometric structures”, L Mahadevan.
The devices and instruments made with totimorphic structural materials can have vast functionality. Health researchers can make use of them for creating replaceable human organs for transplants, construction and electronics industry can make various amazing devices, while the architectural industry can design unbelievably flexible and transformative structures for homes and buildings. Human imagination has no limits and thus a lot more can be explored and created with these materials.