While most reconfigurable materials can alternate between two different states, this new type of newly developed nano-architectural metamaterial It has the ability to change shape in an adjustable way, adjusting its physical properties as appropriate.
Developed by a joint team of Caltech-Georgia Tech-ETH Zurich in the laboratory of Julia R. Greer, and whose results have just been published in Nature, this new nanoarchitectural metamaterial It has potential applications in next-generation energy storage and bioimplantable microdevices.
Ultra high resolution 3D
The team created these materials using an ultra high resolution three-dimensional printing process called lithography of two photons. A silicon-coated network was designed with straight microscale beams that bend in curves under electrochemical stimulation, acquiring unique mechanical and vibratory properties.
The new nanomaterial is deformed through an electrochemically driven silicon-lithium alloy reaction, instead of relying on a persistent external stimulus that allows the change of shape and that it persists over time (for example, moisture). This means that this new material you can acquire new configurations even after stimulus removal, and these can be easily reversed.
Future energy storage systems could take advantage of this ability to change in such a precise and controllable way because it would allow to create adaptive energy storage systems, that is, to obtain, for example, lighter batteries and longer life.