A research team from the University of Rochester have developed a shape-shifting elastic polymer which can potentially lift/pull objects 1000 times its own weight.
The 'superhero' material was engineered by Professor Mitch Anthamatten and a team from the Chemical Engineering lab at the university and has the ability to do some pretty incredible things.
With a features list that would put a superhero's outfit to shame, this incredible material has been designed to be elastic and flexible and yet when heat is applied, will return to a pre-determined shape.
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“Our shape-memory polymer is like a rubber band that can lock itself into a new shape when stretched,” said Anthamatten. “But a simple touch causes it to recoil back to its original shape.”
To make a material that was able to change its shape was actually just one half of the objective, the team also wanted to make it incredibly strong.
“Nearly all applications of shape memory polymers will require that the material pushes or pulls on its surroundings,” said Anthamatten. “However, researchers seldom measure the amount of mechanical work that shape-memory polymers are actually performing.”
This time though, the researchers did measure it, and then subsequently fine tune it to be as powerful as possible. The results are that it can lift or pull objects many times its own weight.
For example, a polymer the size of a shoelace—which weighs about a gram—could lift a litre of drink.