This story about “genius” materials – and research about the materials, and their applications – is re-posted from NASA Science News.
These materials have the ability to self-assemble, which means that on the molecular level, under certain conditions, the molecules have the ability to move around into new configurations, leading to materials with new properties. Research that is done at the International Space Station is particularly interesting because gravity does not have an effect on the materials on this space-based laboratory.
“If you have a smartphone, take it out and run your fingers along the glass surface. It’s cool to the touch, incredibly thin and strong, and almost impervious to scratching. You’re now in contact with a “smart material.”
Smart materials don’t occur naturally. Instead, they are designed by human engineers working at the molecular level to produce substances made-to-order for futuristic applications. The Corning Gorilla Glass that overlays the displays of many smartphones is a great example. It gets it toughness, in part, from “fat” potassium ions stuffed into the empty spaces between old-fashioned glass molecules. When the molten glass cools during manufacturing, dense-packed molecules solidify into a transparent armor that gives Gorilla Glass its extraordinary properties.”
Researchers at CWRU are pioneers in the area of self-healing materials. View the video below: