Researchers are developing a smart fluid that can be programmed

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Researchers from Harvard University have created a liquid that can change its elasticity and fluidity, and also has optical properties.

This is possible thanks to lots of small air-filled balls made of special polymers in silicone gel. These balls collapse under pressure resulting in a change in the properties of the fluid. If the pressure drops, they appear again.

What could you use something like this for? They are considering, among other things, hydraulic control of robots, materials that can change from milky to transparent under pressure and intelligent shock absorbers that react differently depending on the force of the impact.

By playing with the number and strength of the balls, the reaction force can also be changed. But the gel itself responds to differences in pressure anyway.

They have already demonstrated this in an experiment using a robotic hand. This grab is usually hydraulically operated using regular fluid or air. But to carefully pick up an egg, berry or bottle, the gripper must have sensors or be controlled to know how much force is required.

This was not necessary with the new fluid, which responded to small differences in pressure, causing the clutch to adjust its grip.

In the future, the researchers want to study how the liquid interacts with sound and temperature. These effects also appear to provide interesting new properties of the liquid, which will likely make many applications possible.

Read more about the research here: Researchers are developing a meta-fluid with a programmable response

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Megan Vasquez

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