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Bent crystal gets back into shape

Scientists in Japan have discovered an organic crystal that can regain its structure after being deformed — the first known organic superelastic material.

Until now, superelastic materials, which change their crystal structure when mechanically stressed, were made only of metallic alloys and ceramics. Satoshi Takamizawa and Yasuhiro Miyamoto at Yokohama City University found that a terephthalamide crystal can also be superelastic.

The duo twisted the crystal, bending it and changing its molecular arrangement. When tension was released, it regained its structure without signs of material fatigue, even when the stress was applied and removed 100 times.

The advance could lead to self-repairing vehicle parts and materials that help to dampen vibrations, the authors say.

Angew. Chem. (2014)

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Bent crystal gets back into shape. Nature 509, 536 (2014).

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