New shape-shifting metals could have all kinds of smart applications

7 Oct 2013

Scientists at the University of Minnesota have discovered a new form of metal crystal that could have all kinds of futuristic applications in the areas of medical sensors, energy conversion devices and eco-friendly refrigerators.

The breakthrough was featured in a paper published in science journal Nature.

The martensitic material is understood to be capable of changing shape tens of thousands of times without degrading.

According to the researchers, the materials can be tuned to change shape to various geometric angles by introducing thermal cycles.

They use a different array of atoms than other martensitic materials, like mixtures of nickel and titanium.

Using a kind of ‘memory’, the metals can remember their original form and re-form once different temperatures are introduced.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years