Chainmail-inspired fabric can be stiffened on demand Children’s press article

Researchers at Caltech and NTU have developed a new fabric that can become stiff on demand (Credit: Caltech)

Many superheroes wear capes. But that of Batman imposing ground cape is legendary. The twisted sheath not only adds to the mystique of the dark knight, but also transforms into a rigid fabric that allows it to fly for expanded periods. Today, engineers from California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore have replica the material that changes shape in real life.

“We wanted to do materials which can change the stiffness on command, “says Chiara Daraio, study author and professor of mechanical engineering and applied physics at Caltech.” We would like to create a fabric that ranges from soft and pliable to rigid and carrier in a controllable manner. “

The researcher says that materials that change properties are already available. “Think of coffee in a vacuum bag. When it’s still wrapped, it’s solid, through a process we call ‘stuffing’, ”she explains. “But as soon as you open the package, the coffee grounds are no longer stuck together, and you can pour them as if they were a fluid. “

However, due to their unplugged shapes, the coffee particles can only “stuff” when compressed. Engineers were looking for materials that could “jam” when pushed together or separated. “This is the key,” Daraio said. “We tested a number of particles to see which offered both flexibility and adjustable stiffness, and those that only lock under one type of stress tended to perform poorly. “

The bullet impact on the soft material was significantly higher than on the rigid fabric (Credit: Caltech)

3D printed polymer Fabric, revealed by the team on August 13, 2021, draw inspiration from the old chain mail armor. This understand hollow octahedra – triangular shapes with 8 sides – linked together to form a soft Fabric.

The team demonstrated the shape-changing ability of the material by sealing it in a sealed vacuum chamber. the soft the material instantly became 25 times more rigid. It was also much stronger and able to withstand a load of 3.3 pounds (1.5 kilograms) – over 50 times its load. weight.

They then further tested the strength of the material by dropping a small steel ball, first when the fabric was in a relaxed state, and then when it was stiff. The impact of the bullet deformed the flexible material by 26 millimeters. However, when the fabric has been hardened, the impact has been reduced to just 3 millimeters.

The stiff fabric can resist the ball more effectively (Credit: Caltech)

Scientists, who published their findings in the journal Nature August 11, 2021, believe it innovative polymeric material could have many uses. “These fabrics have potential applications in smart portable equipment: when unlocked, they are lightweight, conform, and comfortable to wear; after the scrambling transition, they become a favorable and a protective layer on the wearer’s body, ”said study co-author and NTU assistant professor Dr. Yifan Wang.

The next goal of the team is to improve the quality of the material. durability. Dr Yifan said New Atlas, “To further increase the stiffness and strength of the material, we are now working on fabrics made from various metals, including aluminum, which could be used for industrial applications requiring more load capacity, such as bridges or buildings.