In recent years, scientists are increasingly developing in the field of so-called metamaterials. At its core, metamaterials are materials whose unique properties are due primarily not to the substances from which they are composed, but to an artificially created internal structure, which gives them unusual characteristics. And recently, a group of scientists from the United States has created another meta-material that can change its state. Depending on the conditions, it can be as hard as steel, and as flexible as plasticine.
According to journalists Science Advance, behind the development are scientists from the Livermore national laboratory and the University of California in San Diego, and the class of new structures they called FRMM-Field Responsive Mechanical Meta-materials or “field — responsive mechanical metamaterials.”
What is their uniqueness? First of all, in the manufacturing process. Internally, the device is a network of flexible plastic microtubules printed on a 3D printer. Each microtubule has a length of 5 millimeters. Microtubules inside each one is placed a mixture of oils with particles of iron. Due to this, the material remains flexible in the normal state due to the viscous and fluid. But one has only to put it under the influence of a magnetic field, as a suspension of iron becomes clearly ordered due to the direction of the magnetic field, which makes the material very hard.
During a series of experiments, scientists have found that the average magnetic field increases the rigidity of the structure by 62%. As the researchers assure, this is not the limit and the rigidity of the structure can be easily changed thanks to more durable “fillers”. In the future, this technology can form the basis for the creation of flexible body armor and flexible armor for robots or equipment, which in case of danger can instantly change its density.