Good news for the artistically challenged among us: Scientists have developed a unique polymer that can be programmed to fold itself into complex shapes. While the polymer wasn’t invented to be used in craft projects, according to results published in the journal Science Advances last week, its origami applications are a neat way for researchers to demonstrate the material's capabilities.
The rubbery, shape-shifting polymer responds to external stimuli and can be “programmed” to hold certain shapes by physically folding it at specific elevated temperatures. Following a short blast of heat, it configures itself into its preprogrammed shape and holds it. An additional blast of heat can trigger it to transform into an entirely different form. What makes the material so special is that the shape can be manipulated again and again without any risk of it wearing out, the researchers say.
In addition to making pretty origami cranes, this technology could also have numerous applications in medicine and engineering, from reusable medical devices to self-forming aerospace structures that would be impossible to build otherwise. The researchers are looking to develop a version of the material that would be able to function at lower temperatures.
[h/t: The Verge]