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To take a familiar example, temperature (and pressure) determines whether water is liquid or solid.
Well now, thanks to new research from MIT and the University of South Florida, scientists have gotten materials to code switch, in this case by changing their material structure and properties, simply by shining lights on them.
In particular, they used palladium as the metal, linked together by flexible polymers infused with ligands, ions or molecules that bind to metals.
The palladium can link up with four ligands at a time, which can link up with other palladium-ligand groups to form the cage-like structures; the more palladium atoms in the mix, the bigger the cages.
Co-author Jeremiah Johnson of MIT said in a press release that the technology can improve drug delivery, with larger cages releasing medicine as they transform into smaller cages — even possibly allowing for reversible drug delivery as they transform back into bigger cages.
Johnson went on to say the team’s goals now include creating materials that can switch between solid and liquid states, and using light to give one material different soft and hard sections.
One obvious application of this kind of tech, then, is as a new variety of self-healing material.
The rigid version could serve as a kind of coating; if it gets damaged, just shine a light on it, heat up the soft version to let it flow and heal itself, then shine another light back on and you’re good as new. For starters, palladium isn’t cheap, so a commercial model would need a different metal.
Plus, it took about five hours for the process to complete, so that’s another area to try to improve on. Not only have we figured out another cool thing polymers can do, but the application possibilities also go beyond better self-healing materials.Read More On Tuesday, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) announced the discovery of 10 new moons orbiting Jupiter.Along with two found through the same research project but announced in June 2017, this brings the roster of Jupiter’s known natural One of these new moons turned out to be a bit of a rebel.Marine biologists typically use submarines or remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) to grab or scoop life from the seafloor, but plucking sea life from the open water still often proves difficult with existing tools.Many of these organisms have soft, delicate bodies that are easy to damage or destroy.
Nets can shred gelatinous organisms like jellyfish.