An MIT team has developed a way of making soft materials, using a 3-D printer, with surface textures that can then be modified at will to be perfectly smooth, or ridged or bumpy, or even to have complex patterns that could be used to guide fluids.
The process, developed using detailed computer simulations, involves a material that is composed of two different polymers with different degrees of stiffness: More rigid particles are embedded within a matrix of a more flexible polymer. When squeezed, the material’s surface changes from smooth to a pattern determined by the spacing and shapes of the implanted harder particles; when released, it reverts back to the original form.
The findings, which the researchers say could lead to a new class of materials with dynamically controllable and reversible surface properties, are reported in a paper in the journal Advanced Functional Materials co-authored by MIT graduate student Mark Guttag and Mary Boyce, a former MIT professor of mechanical engineering who is now dean of engineering at Columbia University. Read the full article at MIT News