There’s a new material in town that might turn you into a superhero in the future by giving you the power to lift 1,000 times its own weight. However, the newly invented polymer is not really meant to turn us into superhumans, and might be used for various medical purposes once it’s commercially available.
Developed by researchers at the University of Rochester, the new material can be stretched into different shapes thanks to its chemical abilities to hold on to the new form.
However, as soon as heat is applied, the material returns to its former state and size, releasing impressive amounts of energy in the process. In a video demoing the material, researchers used body heat to make it jump back to its initial state. The energy discharge is so powerful when the polymer returns to its original state that a shoelace-sized piece of the material would be able to lift the weight of a liter of soda.
“Our shape-memory polymer is like a rubber band that can lock itself into a new shape when stretched,” chemical engineering professor Mitch Anthamatten said. “But a simple touch causes it to recoil back to its original shape.”
“Tuning the trigger temperature is only one part of the story,” Anthamatten said. “We also engineered these materials to store large amounts of elastic energy, enabling them to perform more mechanical work during their shape recovery.”
The material could be used for “sutures, artificial skin, body-heat assisted medical dispensers, and self-fitting apparel,” according to the university.
A couple of videos showing the material in action follow below, with the second one highlighting the impressive strength of the polymer.