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New Self-Stretching Material Can Revert Back to Original Shape
Although most materials slightly expand when heated, there is a new class of rubber-like material that not only self-stretches upon cooling - it reverts back to its original shape when heated, all without physical manipulation. The material is like a shape-memory polymer because it can be switched between two different shapes. "??However, unlike other shape-memory polymers, the material does not need to be programmed each cycle - it repeatedly switches shapes, with no external forces, simply upon cooling and heating,"?%9D says Mitchell Anthamatten, an associate professor of chemical engineering at the University of Rochester. Anthamatten and his team built on the success of a recently developed polymer that can also stretch when cooled. The other polymers need to have small loads - or weights - attached in order to direct the shape to be taken. That is not the case with the new polymer, because Anthamatten"s team "??tricked it into thinking"?%9D a load was attached. The team envisions the material being applied to a number of areas in which reversible shape-changes are needed during operations, including biotechnology, artificial muscles, and robotics.
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