Scientists from Stanford created a material with unique capabilities that may lay the groundwork for new biomedical innovations.
The team synthesized a type of plastic called an elastomer. This material was fused with specialized organic molecules to produce structures called ligands that comprised long, stretchy polymer chains.
Next, the researchers added material metal ions to this mixture culminating in a “flexible fishnet”. Straining the material would allow the knots formed by the ligands to separate but the addition of the metal ions would make the polymer taut when it was in a relaxed state, notes Stanford’s official announcement.
A series of stress tests revealed that the plastic twitched and moved when exposed to electrical stimuli signifying its artificial muscle potential, reports IEEE Spectrum. It could be fused with artificial limbs to help restore partial sensitive to patients needing artificial limbs.
Plus, the invention was able to repair itself at a variety of temperatures, whereas similar compounds need an external chemical like a solvent or heat treatment to fix any damage. The addition of metal ions strengthened its durability because the polymer was able to cope with strains up to 10,000 percent.
Chemical engineering professor Zhenan Bao, Ph.D., one of the authors of the study published in Nature Chemistry, told IEEE Spectrum the focus right now we’ll be seeing which polymers work well with different electronic components to form different parts of a transistor.
You can watch the plastic in action below.
R&D 100 AWARD ENTRIES NOW OPEN:
Establish your company as a technology leader! For more than 50 years, the R&D 100 Awards have showcased new products of technological significance. You can join this exclusive community! Learn more.