Although researchers have previously developed “deformed” structural materials, they often add to solenoid valves, pumps or motors, adding weight and complexity,media New Atlas reported. Now, however, scientists have developed a carbon fiber composite that can change shape with just a single power.
Created by a team at the Royal Swedish Institute of Technology, the three-layer solid material consists of two lithium-ion-doped carbon fibers with a thin sheet of a solid electrolyte in the middle.
The latter is more precisely “structural battery electrolyte” whereions migrate from one layer of carbon fiber to another (via electrolyte) as low-voltage DC current passes through it. This causes the carbon fiber discharge layer to contract while inflating the charging layer. As a result, the entire material bends to one side. The composite remains in this shape even after the current is removed. However, if the current is reversed in the subsequent charge, the lithium ion sits in the opposite direction. Depending on the voltage, this causes the composite to bend backward, either to a neutral plane shape or to the other side.
The material is light, but is also thought to be harder than aluminum. Once further developed, it could be applied to deformed aircraft wings that do not require aside wing, or to change shape to achieve maximum efficiency at different wind speeds of wind turbine blades.
“We’ve been working on structural batteries for some time, such as carbon fiber composites that store energy like lithium-ion batteries,” said study co-author Professor Dan Zenkert. “Now, we have further developed this work. We expect it to lead to a new concept by changing the shape of the material only through electrical control, but also as a lightweight and rigid material. “
The paper was recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).