In a new development, a team of researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has announced that they have engineered a new rubber –like solid matter that has superior qualities. The material can absorb and discharge very large quantities of energy, and is programmable.
The materials holds promise for a very large spectrum of applications, from enabling robots to have increased capacity without using additional energy to new protective materials that can discharge energy in much lesser time.
If a rubber band is pulled back, and let go, it flies across the room, stated the senior author of the paper. If a super rubber band is used in place, when it is stretched past a certain point, extra energy stored in the material is activated. When the rubber band is let to go, it flies for a mile.
The hypothetical rubber band is made of a new metamaterial that combines an elastic, rubber-like substance with tiny magnets embedded in it. The new elasto magnetic material takes advantage of a physical property termed phase shift to greatly influence the amount of energy the material can absorb or release.
The shift in phase occurs when a material changes from one state to another. The example of water changing into steam or liquid concrete solidifying into a sidewalk is an analogy. Whenever a material shifts its phase, energy is either absorbed or released. And phase shifts are not only limited to changes between solid, liquid, and gaseous states – a shift can occur from phase to another.
A change in shift can be harnessed as a power source, but obtaining enough energy has always been the difficult part.
The amplification of energy release or absorption requires engineering a new structure at the atomic or even molecular level.