This fluid is programmable, able to change its consistency and color

Published by Redbran - Monday, April 15, 2024 - Other Languages: FR, DE, ES, PT
Source: Nature

At Harvard University, a team from the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) has developed a metafluid with extraordinary properties. This fluid, containing elastomer spheres that can deform under pressure, introduces unprecedented capabilities for diverse applications, from robotics to optical devices.

Artistic view

The secret of this fluid lies in its small silicone spheres, ranging from about 0.002 to 0.02 inches (50 to 500 microns), which bend under pressure. This characteristic allows the metafluid to switch from one state to another, thereby altering its viscosity, its transparency, and even its nature, oscillating between a Newtonian and a non-Newtonian fluid.

This work, published in Nature, is based on a large-scale manufacturing technique designed in David A. Weitz's laboratory. The manipulation of pressure in the fluid deforms these capsules, transforming them into hemispheres that return to their original shape once the pressure is removed. This phenomenon directly influences the fluid's viscosity and opacity.

Adel Djellouli, the main author of the study, emphasizes the immense potential of this technology, capable of introducing intelligence into previously static systems, as demonstrated with a robotic device able to manipulate objects of different weights and fragilities without external programming.

Beyond robotics, the optical properties of the metafluid open new horizons for applications such as electronic inks, capable of changing color.

The transition of the metafluid between Newtonian and non-Newtonian states depending on the shear force is a first, enriching its range of potential applications. The research team, led by Katia Bertoldi, is now looking to explore the acoustical and thermodynamic properties of their discovery.

Harvard is currently exploring commercialization opportunities, highlighting the interest in this innovation.
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