Materials such as shape-memory alloys that can be deformed and restored to their original state as needed will have a major impact on aerospace, robotics and even fashion,media reported. Made from recycled wool, this programmable material bends and deforms when stimulated and bounces back to its original shape.
The team envisions using it for deformable clothing to suit different scenes.
The starting point for this new deformation material is a fibrin protein found in hair, nails and shells, called keratin, which also exists in wool. Keratin has some useful properties for material scientists because as a single chain it forms a spring-like spiral structure called an alpha spiral.
When you put enough fibers together, you get a strong, large fiber with shape-memory properties. When the material is stretched, the coil expands and forms a new chemical bond to form a stable sheet. The material remains this way until it is exposed to stimulation, at which point the coil returns to its original shape.
Kit Parker, senior author of the paper, said: “With this project, we can not only recycle wool but also use it to make things we never thought until before. “
In the experiment, the team first used 3D to print out keratin flakes of different shapes and place them in a solution of hydrogen peroxide and sodium phosphate, setting them to a “permanent” state. On this basis, the material can be temporarily shaped into other shapes in response to different stimuli.
In one experiment, the team permanently set the keratin tablet to a complex origami star. When the star sinks into the water, it expands and takes on a malleable form, forming a tight tube that becomes stable and functional when the flakes dry. Then, when it is put back into the water, it expands and folds back into the original origami star.
Luca Cera, the paper’s first author, says the material is suitable for a wide range of applications, from textiles to tissue engineering.
The researchers envision some interesting uses for this new deformed material. They say the material could be used to make bras that can be customized in shape and cup size, or clothing that can open vents according to moisture. In this way, they hope to help solve the waste problem in the fashion industry.
“The impact on the sustainability of natural resources is clear,” Parker said. With recycled keratin, we can do as much or more as we shear wool. This also reduces the environmental impact of the textile and fashion industries. “