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Material Inspired by Tears Has Applications in Fuel Transport, Optical Systems
Researchers at the Wyss Institute at Harvard University and Harvard's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have designed a new adaptive material with tunable transparency and wettability features. The bioinspired material is a continuous liquid film that coats, and is infused in, an elastic porous substrate. It is based on a core concept: any deformation of the substrate - such as stretching - changes the size of the pores, which causes the liquid surface to change its shape. As demonstrated in this video, sitting at rest, the multifunctional material is smooth, clear, and flat - droplets of water or oil on its omniphobic surface flow freely downward. Stretching or bending it makes the fluid surface rougher. The rough surface is opaque, and also confers the ability to precisely control the movement of water or oil droplets. Wyss Institute's Founding Director Donald Ingber says the material has the potential to be a game-changer in "everything from oil and gas pipelines, to microfluidic and optical systems, building design and construction, textiles, and more."
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