LEARN Research Laboratory 


Smart materials or programmable matter has the potential to impact any number of business sectors including manufacturing, transportation, biomedical, and petroleum.


Smart materials are materials that respond the environment by changing their shape.These materials are considered "smarter" because they appear to know their surroundings.

Smart Materials
For example if we take two materials: a wooden rod and a piezoelectric rod


Passing an electric field through the piezoelectric rod, it bends as if it knows the electric field is being applied. Because the bending is in response to the stimulation (a scientific term for "you messed with it")  smart materials are also sometimes called stimuli-responsive materials.

The response of the material seems "smart" because this material "knows" it's surroundings.Passing an electric field through the wooden rod, the wood just sits there. Not surprising, it's just wood. But the piezoelectric rod compared to the wood appears "smart".

Smart Fluids
But smart materials are not limited to solid shape shifting; liquids it turns out can be smart too. These fluids change their properties to become more viscous and eventually solid with the application of the electric field.

The use of this effect of changing the properties of complex fluids
using magnetic and electric fields now has found a variety of applications