Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Adaptable Materials

PostedMarch 29, 2015

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Anchor Lead: Most devices are made of parts with set structures, precisely designed for their function. But new materials are being engineered to be more versatile.

Randy Atkins: The materials are cleverly crafted into structures that, when exposed to a stress, don’t break. Instead, says Harvard engineer Katia Bertoldi, they deform into new useful shapes that…

Katia Bertoldi: …give us opportunities to design devices that can somehow take advantage of the surrounding environment and adapt.

Randy Atkins: Such unstable materials can change shape as conditions change…and perform useful tasks – like, say, becoming adhesive or bendable.

Katia Bertoldi: We can basically use the same concept at a very large scale for a building and at the very small scale for a drug delivery capsule.

Randy Atkins: It might allow medicines to be delivered exactly where and when needed, as capsules morph in response to cues in your body like temperature or acidity. With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP News.