University of Texas Smart Plastic
There’s already a material that is as light as plastic, yet stronger than steel, and now, a smart plastic capable of transitioning from a stretchy soft to hard in visible light. To create this material, chemists began with a monomer, and after testing a dozen catalysts, they found one that, when added to their monomer and shown visible light, resulted in a semi-crystalline polymer similar to synthetic rubber.

What they observed at room temperature was that a harder and more rigid material formed in the areas light touched, while the other areas retained their soft, stretchy properties. Since this substance is made of one material with different properties, it was more durable and could be stretched farther than most mixed materials. Inexpensive blue LEDs was used as the light source in the experiment, and the reaction took less than 1-hour, thus minimizing use of any hazardous waste. It could be used in the future for wearable electronics or soft robots.

Beats Studio Buds – True Wireless Noise Cancelling Earbuds – Compatible with Apple & Android,...
75,077 Reviews
Beats Studio Buds – True Wireless Noise Cancelling Earbuds – Compatible with Apple & Android,...
  • Custom acoustic platform delivers powerful, balanced sound
  • Control your sound with two distinct listening modes: Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) and Transparency mode
  • Three soft ear tip sizes for a stable and comfortable fit while ensuring an optimum acoustic seal

This is the first material of its type. The ability to control crystallization, and therefore the physical properties of the material, with the application of light is potentially transformative for wearable electronics or actuators in soft robotics,” said Zachariah Page, assistant professor of chemistry and corresponding author on the paper.


A technology, gadget and video game enthusiast that loves covering the latest industry news. Favorite trade show? Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.