Scientists create a chameleon material that changes shape and strength on demand

Credit: Ante Hamersmit/Unsplash.

Imagine a material that can change its shape and how hard or soft it is, just like magic. This isn’t a scene from a sci-fi movie; it’s real science!

A team of smart scientists, led by Professor Jiyun Kim from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at UNIST, has created something extraordinary.

They’ve made a special kind of material that can adjust its shape and how strong or flexible it is, right when you need it to.

This new invention is inspired by the amazing ability of creatures like the octopus to adapt and change according to their surroundings.

Until now, robots made from soft materials couldn’t really change much once they were built.

They couldn’t match the incredible ways animals adapt to their environment. But the team wanted to change that.

They came up with a brilliant idea: a material that can switch between being soft and hard, and even change its shape, whenever you want.

This smart material is made up of tiny pieces that can be controlled to either be squishy or firm. Imagine a material filled with little invisible switches that can make parts of it hard as a rock or soft as a pillow.

By controlling these switches, the material can take on new shapes or become stronger in certain areas, all on its own.

The scientists showed off what their material can do by making it act like a superhero shield that gets tougher when hit by something unexpected, protecting whatever is behind it from getting hurt.

They also made it work like a magic button, where it can push with just the right amount of force at just the right time.

Professor Kim and the team believe their invention is just the beginning. They think it can work together with smart computer programs to learn and get even better over time.

This means we might soon see robots that can change as needed, just like animals do, and materials that can think and react to the world around them.

The possibilities are endless. From robots that can crawl into tight spaces for rescues, to materials that make cars safer in crashes, this new material could change the way we think about making things.

It’s like having a piece of the future in our hands today.

The team’s work shows us a glimpse of a world where materials can think and adapt, making life safer, more fun, and maybe a little more like a science fiction movie.