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Developing [Re]programmable Matter

Prototyping multi-stimuli systems to programme state-changing materials

Date Published: 08 July 2021

Our prototyping investigates the potentials of developing physically adaptive structures, which can have multiple material properties updated on the fly (shape, texture, composition, opacity etc), as well as self-heal when damaged. All at high material resolutions.

The first video highlights how varying volumes of ferrofluid (magnetic liquid) and isopropyl alcohol impact the resolution,  complexity and contrast of the 2D patterns generated. The prototype also highlights the issue of not being able to take the ferrofluid patterns generated out of the tank so they can be handheld and interacted.

The second video demonstrates how this challenge of being able to programme materials via stimuli and taking the final object out of the tank has been investigated. By developing a multi-stimuli system and incorporating state-changing materials we are able to reprogramme an object’s matter and heal it when damaged. As a result, an object’s shape, composition, texture, opacity can be updated on-demand at high material resolutions. These material abilities reveal new circular material potentials as well as new forms of creativity based on how materials, objects or even architectural structures can be interacted with.

Excitingly, these initial prototyping investigations lead to a successful funding application with Connected Everything II, starting in October 2021. The funding will enable collaborations with Lancaster’s Material Science Institute/Chemistry department to expand and refine the material palette/properties generated. The design challenge is to relate and inform these enhanced material properties sportswear applications so desirable material adaptations are generated based on an array of real-time sensor data.

Currently, we are looking for a research associate to joining our team with hardware/arduino skills. For more information please get in touch via email; a.blaney@lancaster.ac.uk



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