Shape memory materials for a long timeused to create complex mechanisms in the aerospace industry, in the creation of robotic systems and other high-tech areas. The invention of scientists from Harvard University will allow introducing technology into light industry and medicine for the manufacture of special clothing that changes size and shape.
As a base for textile material,preserving the memory of the shape, the fibrous protein keratin was selected, the content of which is high in hair, nails and shells. Women know about hair shape memory by trying to straighten curls. At the slightest ingress of moisture on straightened hair, they rapidly turn into pristine curly curls.
Keratin structure in the form of spirals of a single chain,the so-called alpha spiral, can have a huge impact on modern materials science. Researchers at Harvard have combined several of these spiral structures to produce a shape memory material.
At the first stage of research, using3D printing technology, sheets of various shapes from keratin were created. The initial state of the object was recorded by placing it in a solution of hydrogen peroxide and monosodium phosphate. In the future, the shape of the material could be changed, but in the end it tended to its original state.
In one experiment, a keratin leafwas bent and rigidly fixed in the shape of an origami-like star. When the object was placed in water, the material became malleable, and scientists changed its shape to a tubular cylinder. After drying, the material remained in this state. However, as soon as the object was again placed in water, its original star shape returned.
Among the promising garments in whichnew materials can be used, scientists call restraining bras that change the shape and size of the cups, clothes with ventilation holes that open or close, depending on the humidity of the environment, as well as special textiles for medical purposes.