An international team of researchers has discovered a path that could lead to shape-shifting ceramic materials. The researchers say the discovery could improve everything from medical devices to electronics.
The researchers first tried a recipe that has worked for the discovery of new metallic shape memory materials. That involves a delicate tuning of the distances between atoms by compositional changes, so that the two phases fit together well. They implemented this recipe, but instead of improving the deformability of the ceramic, they observed that some specimens exploded when they passed through the phase transformation. Others gradually fell apart into a pile of powder, a phenomenon they termed weeping.
With another composition, they observed a reversible transformation, easily transforming back and forth between the phases, much like a shape memory material. The mathematical conditions under which reversible transformation occurs can be applied widely and provide a way forward toward the paradoxical shape-memory ceramic.
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