Shape-Memory Phase Transitions in Soft Materials

Bertoldi, Suo, and Whitesides demonstrated a new soft structure that uses a meso- or macro-scale elastic instability to generate a shape-memory effect similar to that of a ferroelastic material. They explored the phase transition, state switching, and shape memory in this system both in experiment and in simulation (above). This class of materials is a potentially useful alternative to conventional shape-memory alloys in applications requiring arbitrarily low modulus and arbitrarily large remnant strain. Their technique of reproducing material properties typically present at the atomic or molecular level using meso-scale structural properties provides a new means of engineering novel soft materials with programmable properties and functions.

Katia Bertoldi (SEAS),
Zhigang Suo (SEAS), and
George M. Whitesides (CCB)
Harvard MRSEC (DMR-1420570)