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First step towards ‘programmable materials’

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Posted March 7, 2014
First step towards 'programmable materials'
This is a working model of the programmable material, shown on the cover of Advanced Materials, issue March 5th, 2014. Credit: Empa
Researchers from Empa and ETH Zurich have succeeded in producing a prototype of a vibration-damping material that could change the world of mechanics forever. The material of the future is not only able to damp vibrations completely; it can also specifically conduct certain frequencies further.

Although the “programmable material” still only works in a one-dimensional model construction, it has already demonstrated it unusual capabilities: The research project entitled Phononic Crystal with Adaptive Connectivity has just been published in the journal Advanced Materials. The first step towards mechanical components with freely programmable properties has thus been achieved.

The working model used by the researchers consists of a one-meter by one-centimeter aluminum plate that is one millimeter thick. This sheet-metal strip can vibrate at different frequencies. In order to control the wave propagation, ten small aluminum cylinders (7 mm thick, 1 cm high) are attached to the metal. Between the sheet and the cylinders sit piezo discs, which can be stimulated electronically and change their thickness in a flash. This ultimately enables the team headed by project supervisor Andrea Bergamini to control exactly whether and how waves are allowed to propagate in the sheet-metal strip. The aluminum strip thus turns into a so-called adaptive phononic crystal – a material with adaptable properties.

Read more at: Phys.org

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