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A new type of lightweight shape-memory auxetic polymer was made by Dr. Chariklia Sotiriou-Leventis, professor of chemistry, and her research team including Rushi Soni, who graduated in December 2021 with a doctorate in chemistry, and chemistry doctoral students ABM Shaheen ud Doulah, and Vaibhav Edlabadkar. The work was conducted in collaboration with Dr. Hongbing Lu, professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Texas-Dallas, and Dr. Sadeq Malakooti, a NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellow.
The group used polyisocyanurate-polyurethane aerogel to synthesize this new material they named Meta-aerogel. The meta-aerogel has shape memory properties as well as a negative Poisson’s ratio that renders it auxetic.
Unlike most other materials, an auxetic material shrinks in lateral direction when compressed in the longitudinal direction. This technology is relevant to a broad range of industries spanning the commercial, aeronautical, and aerospace sectors.
“The auxetic meta-structures with polymeric aerogels that show the shape-memory effect would comprise a new class of materials, referred to herewith as meta-aerogels,” says Doulah.
“Meta-aerogels will be especially suitable as deployable panels in aerospace applications as they will contract and occupy less space during stowing in their folded temporary shape on their way to the location of their deployment where they will recover their unfolded permanent shape,” says Sotiriou-Leventis.