Hard or soft? State-shifting new material can be both

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Researchers at Waterloo Engineering have created a new material that can go from a soft gel to a hard solid and back again at the same temperature.

The switchability of the material - a combination of supercooled melted salt and polymers that the researchers call sal-gel - means it has two stable and reversible solid states for potential use in a range of technologies including soft robotics, adhesion and adhesives, and aeronautics.

Boxin ZhaoBoxin Zhao

“It should be particularly effective for applications that require a gentle touch, but a firm grip,” said Aleksander Cholewinski, co-leader of the research with fellow PhD student Kuo Yang. “It is a two-in-one solid that meets both of those needs.

Cholewinski, Yang, and postdoctoral fellows Li Yu and Geoffrey Rivers were directed by Boxin Zhao, a chemical engineering professor and WIN member at Waterloo.

Click here for the full story.

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