Car Could Soften Itself During Collision With This New Material

Science
Car Could Soften Itself During Collision With This New Material PHOTOGRAPH: Flickr/Daniel X. O'Neil | Under CC By 2.0

Car crashes might finally have become less dangerous with the discovery of a unique “metamaterial.” This man-made material developed by a group of researchers in University Of Michigan, goes from hard to soft and back again. The material changes its physical state without actually altering its components.

Metamaterial Is Better Than Just Material

Traditionally, a material gets stuck in the state it is conceived in. Any effort made thereafter to change its permanent state ends up altering the material and even damaging it. This is not the case with metamaterials, which are completely man-made. Hence, they can be manipulated according to the will of the person developing it, allowing it to exert certain rare properties.

In case of the latest metamaterial, its acquired properties are “topologically protected,” reported Nature. The total structure works to maintain the properties in such material. Hence, tweaking the state of the material does not affect the key properties in that material.

Xiaoming Mao, assistant professor of physics, has elaborated further and stated that a metamaterial reacts to stress. When it comes in contact with an object, its state of being changes depending on the level of stress it experiences. However, the immediate changes happen on a surface level.

Metamaterial Is Perfect for Manufacturing Cars, Rockets and Bike Tyres

The core of the material, which is defined by its properties, remains unchanged due to the topological protection. As a result, the metamaterial does not get damaged despite an increased amount of stress induced at its edge. The flexible nature of the material makes it ideal for manufacturing objects like cars and rockets.

It also makes it invaluable when it comes to absorbing the impact of car crashes, saving lives. “When you’re driving a car, you want the car to be stiff and to support a load. During a collision, you want components to become softer to absorb the energy from the collision and protect the passenger in the car,” Mao said, reported Michigan News.

Another use for the material, suggested by the scientists, is in manufacturing bicycle tires. These tires will have the capability to self-adjust, enabling it to deliver top performance regardless of what kind of surface they come in contact with. It could revolutionize the entire world of competitive biking.

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