Open Loop Feedback Control of Material Properties Using a Pseudo-Circulatory System

Reference#: P03560

The 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show highlighted the strong interest in smart materials, and the industry believes that this market will hit $1.2 billion in 2014. Although the commercial sector’s interest in these types of materials is relatively new, animals have been evolving some of the most advanced materials for millions of years in order to develop very effective features and adaptations. Examples include dolphin skin’s anti-drag properties, the octopus’ camouflage properties, blood clots, and scar formation, to name a few.

APL researchers have designed hydrogel materials based on features exemplified by animals that can undergo large property changes in response to specific aqueous environments. For example, circulatory materials mimic octopus skin through dynamic self-assembly triggered by chemical, thermal, and mechanical stimuli. Hydrogels expand and contract in response to temperature, light, salt, humidity, and pH. Therefore, exposing them to hot or cold water, brightness or darkness, freshwater or saltwater, dry or humid air, and acids or bases will control their volume. Using hydrogels in conjunction with functional filler materials, APL researchers exploited this phenomenon to achieve large property changes in stiffness, shape, and color.

This novel copolymer can be used to:
• self-heal a material,
• change the color and reflection of a vehicle, structure, or device,
• assist in antifouling measures,
• reduce vehicle drag,
• develop artificial muscles, and
• provide camouflage.

Although the applications are nearly limitless, maritime vessels and high-performance vehicles and materials would see an immediate benefit from the implementation of this technology because an antifouling covering that reduces drag would reduce both maintenance and fuel costs.

Ms. H. L. Curran
Phone: (443) 778-7262