Researchers Create Material That Gets Stronger With Increased Stress

You know that feeling you get after burning through a thousand curls? Neither do I. But I believe the bros when they say they’re sore afterwards; and of course later, the muscles become stronger. That same natural phenomenon has recently been demonstrated in a composite material from research underway at Rice University. Much like steel cold-working, the research plays on the idea that after bending or compressing a material, it resists it the next time.

Pulickel Ajayan, Rice professor of mechanical engineering and materials science along with graduate student Brent Carey created a new composite material by fusing a batch of vertically aligned, multi-walled nanotubes with polydimethylsiloxane (a rubbery polymer). Normal fatigue testing of the composite led to the surprise discovery that instead of the material weakening, it actually got stronger. The explanation for this reaction is still a mystery, but they are going to try to find an explanation next.

After more research is completed, the composite material could go on to be used in medical applications. “We can envision this response being attractive for developing artificial cartilage that can respond to the forces being applied to it but remains pliable in areas that are not being stressed,” Carey said. So you probably won’t see phones made out of it any time soon, but it’s still pretty cool.

[via DailyTech and Gizmag]