Making materials to order: A team of researchers at MIT has found a way to make complex composite materials whose attributes can be fine-tuned to give various desirable combinations of properties such as stiffness, strength, resistance to impacts and energy dissipation.
The key feature of the new composites is a “co-continuous” structure of two different materials with very different properties, creating a material combining aspects of both. The co-continuous structure means that the two interleaved materials each form a kind of three-dimensional lattice whose pieces are fully connected to each other from side to side, front to back, and top to bottom...
The process could even be used to make materials with "tunable" properties: for example, to allow certain frequencies of phonons — waves of heat or sound — to pass through while blocking others, with the selection of frequencies tuned through changes in mechanical pressure. It could also be used to make materials with shape-memory properties, which could be compressed and then spring back to a specific form.
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