The new material is made from liquid crystal elastomer and can harvest energy out of impacts efficiently, and this new material could also help reduce consumption of fuel in vehicles
A team of scientists from Johns Hopkins University developed a novel material that absorbs shock and is as lightweight as foam, yet at strong as metal. The team developed the novel material from liquid crystal elastomer and can absorb energy from impacts with efficiency. Moreover, according to the research published in the journal Wiley Online Library on February 6th 2022, the novel material could also be used to create helmets, stronger, lighter, and reusable vehicle parts.
The liquid crystal elastomers (LCEs) is the main component in the new material that the scientists have developed. LCEs are systems of elastic polymers in a liquid crystalline state that gives them stability and elasticity. These components are usually used for making artificial muscles for robots and actuators. In this new study, the team developed materials consisting tilted beams of LCE placed amid firm supporting structures. The team repeated this unit in multiple layers in order for them to buckle on impact at different rates and dispel the energy efficiently. When the team conducted a series of experiments, the materials ability to endure impacts of different masses at differing speed was tested.
Furthermore, the team observed that after getting struck by objects weighing 4 to 15 lb (1.8 to 6.8 kg) at 22 mph speed, the material was able to withstand the impact. With more layers of the cells, the material performed even better. For instance, a four layered structure consisted double density of energy absorption of a structure with only one layer. According to the researchers, this new material could also be utilized in enhancement of body armors, helmets, parts of aircraft and vehicles efficiently absorbing energy from impacts.