Researchers have developed a new composite material that can change its behavior depending on the temperature. The material can sense, process and act on mechanical signals without requiring additional circuits or devices.
The material is made of a polymer matrix embedded with magnetic particles. The particles are arranged in a way that creates a phase shift, which means that the material can switch between two different states: soft and hard. When the material is soft, it can deform easily and transmit mechanical signals. When it is hard, it can resist deformation and block mechanical signals.
The researchers used this property to design the material to perform different tasks depending on the temperature. For example, they made the material act as a switch that can turn on LED lights when the temperature is above a certain threshold. They also made the material act as a logic gate that can perform basic computations based on mechanical inputs and outputs.
Why the material is useful
The researchers say that the material has potential applications in various fields, such as robotics, biomedical devices, smart textiles and wearable electronics. The material can enable new functionalities and capabilities that are not possible with conventional materials or electronics.
For instance, the material can be used to create soft robots that can adapt to different environments and tasks. The material can also be used to create sensors and actuators that can operate without batteries or wires. The material can also be used to create smart fabrics that can change their properties and functions according to the temperature or other stimuli.
How the material was developed
The material was developed by a team of researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), the University of California, Riverside (UCR) and the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD). The team was led by Professor Qibing Pei from UCLA, who is an expert in smart materials and devices.
The team used a technique called magnetorheological finishing to create the material. The technique involves applying a magnetic field to a liquid polymer that contains magnetic particles. The magnetic field aligns the particles in a desired pattern and then the polymer is cured to form a solid material.
The team published their findings in the journal Science Advances.