Scientists Develop Material That Shrinks When Heated

Posted: Oct 26 2016, 5:09am CDT | by , Updated: Oct 26 2016, 9:02pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 

Scientists Develop Materials That Shrink When Heated
3D printer strcuture that expands when heat is on. Credit: MIT
 

New 3D printed material can flex inward and cause the structure to contract when exposed to a certain temperature.

Most of the solids like rubber, glass and steel expand when heated. This is because the molecules begin to move more violently when the heat is on and result in expanding material in all directions. However, researchers at MIT along with the University of California and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have been able to reverse this process. They have developed tiny, star-shaped structures each about the size of sugar cube that shrink when heated to about 540 degrees Fahrenheit. 

These unique structures are created by combining two common materials, polymer and a polymer/copper composite. The trick is to arrange them such a way that it can bend the structure inwards and cause it to shrink instead of expanding. 

These composite structures are called metamaterial which exhibit properties not usually associated with natural materials. This material has implications for manufacturing more efficient computer microchips which usually heat up during the functioning and this sudden heating could affect their performance. 

 

“This is a new version of a printing method we have developed and used in the past. We used it to create a thermomechanical metamaterial that may enable applications not possible before. It has thermomechanical properties not achievable in conventional bulk materials.” Chris Spadaccini, one of the researchers involved in the project said.

This mechanism is also applicable to other solid materials. With tuning materials could expand or shrink at any desired rate.

“The interesting thing (about the structure) is it's made of two different materials, beams and void space,” said co researcher Jonathan Hopkins. “When you heat it, as long as one of the beams expands more than the others, then the connecting points between each unit cell pulls inward and makes the overall lattice pull inward. It’s an immediate thermal contraction, which is the unique thing about it” 

 

 

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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