MIT looks into shape shifting plastic

This plastic has a mind of its own

Researchers at MIT and Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers in Germany have come up with a plastic that can assume three different shapes when different levels of heat are applied.

MIT

At room temperature, for instance, a plastic tube might have a diameter of 4.5 millimeters. Heat it to 40 degrees Celsius and it might go 6.8 centimeters. Heat it again to 60 Celsius and it might contract to a size between the two other diameters. You could also get plastic sheets that form shapes at one elevated temperature and then anchor themselves at a higher temp. The acrobatics in the photo are the result of different temperature levels.

Someday, these plastics could be used to make stents and other medical devices, or really in all sorts of products where you would want to manipulate the material but can't get at it.

The invention in part came out of a lab at MIT directed by Robert Langer, one of the university's more prolific inventors.

About the author

    Michael Kanellos is editor at large at CNET News.com, where he covers hardware, research and development, start-ups and the tech industry overseas.

     

    Join the discussion

    Conversation powered by Livefyre

    Show Comments Hide Comments
    Latest Galleries from CNET
    Nissan gives new Murano bold style (pictures)
    Top great space moments in 2014 (pictures)
    This is it: The Audiophiliac's top in-ear headphones of 2014 (pictures)
    ZTE's wallet-friendly Grand X (pictures)
    Lenovo reprises clever design for the Yoga Tablet 2 (Pictures)
    Top-rated reviews of the week (pictures)