April 27, 2024 at 9:32 am

New “Metafluid” Liquid Can Be Programmed To Adapt To Different Situations It Encounters

by Trisha Leigh

Source: YouTube

Ah, Harvard. It turns out they do more than churn out impressive graduates who love talking about their years at Harvard.

This time, they’re revealing an “intelligent” programmable liquid.

Researchers say they believe this is an intriguing development in the fairly new field of metamaterials. Their “intelligent liquid” has a unique structure that allows it to alter its properties according to programming.

Metamaterials are artificially engineered materials with rare properties that are “determined by their structure rather than composition.”

It might not be as intelligent as it is responsive, but the “metafluid” is designed to designed to have programmable compressibility, optical behavior, and viscosity.

It can even transition between Newtonian and non-Newtonian states.

The researchers, including co-author, Adel Djellouli, are excited about the myriad possibilities that lie ahead.

“We are just scratching the surface of what is possible with this new class of fluid. With this one platform, you could do so many different things in so many different fields.”

Other metamaterials are created with building blocks “arranged in fixed positions within a lattice structure,” but this one is made of tiny, rubber-like spheres suspended in silicon oil.

The spheres are filled with air, and buckle under sufficient pressure, forming a lens-like half-sphere.

The half-spheres can allow light and focus to pass through, while the full spheres block it, etc. This is how its properties can be radically altered.

Co-author Katia Bertoldi, says this is exactly what they were hoping to accomplish.

“Unlike solid metamaterials, metafluids have the unique ability to flow and adapt to the shape of their container. Our goal was to create a metafluid that not only possess these remarkable attributes but also provides a platform for programmable viscosity, compressibility, and optical properties.”

They used their metamaterial as the hydraulic fluid in a robotic gripper during a demonstration. The robot had to pick up fragile objects like a glass bottle and an egg without crushing them.

The robot nailed the test as the fluid automatically responded to different pressures without extra programming or external control. This is a feat that traditional hydraulic fluid or water would not be able to accomplish.

“We show that we can use this fluid to endow intelligence into a simple robot.”

Researchers say this is only an early preview of what it’s capable of, too.

Next, they plan to test the metafluid’s acoustic and thermodynamic properties.

“The application space for these scalable, easy-to-produce metafluids is huge.”

Where there is money to be made, scientists will go.

So I’m sure we’re going to be seeing more of this cool stuff in the future.

If you found that story interesting, learn more about why people often wake up around 3 AM and keep doing it for life.