An increasing number of lightweight composite materials and carrying makes its way. Biomaterial is highly coveted especially in sectors such as automotive, shipbuilding and aircraft manufacturing. If you then consider the (equally) growing need to develop new methods for the early diagnosis of damage to these (still little known) materials, imagine how important the development I am talking about in this post is.
With the aim of satisfying both needs, the scientists of the Complex Materials Group of ETH Zurich have created e presented in a study a lightweight biomaterial that uses a color change to signal internal deformation. Yes, that's right: it changes color to warn that it is breaking. It is a translucent biomaterial composed of several layers. It is very light and strong, but when things get tough, warn!
How is the biomaterial made that changes color to warn of the damage suffered
This type of laminate is composed of alternating layers of a plastic polymer and artificial mother of pearl. In turn, the artificial mother-of-pearl is modeled on the biological structure of an oyster shell, and is made up of countless glass plates arranged in parallel. These plates are compacted with a polymer resin, which makes the layer extremely hard and resistant to breaking.
Above the first layer of biomaterial is another one made of a polymer to which the researchers added an indicator molecule synthesized specifically for the task at hand. This "indicator" molecule is the key to everything. The molecule is activated as soon as the polymer undergoes a deformation and this changes its fluorescence. The more the material stretches, the more these molecules are activated, increasing the fluorescence.
The more damage it takes, the more it becomes colored
We used fluorescent molecules because you can measure the increase in fluorescence very well and you don't have to rely on subjective perception.Thomas Magrini, lead author of the study.
The fluorescence of the biomaterial, as mentioned, acts as an indicator. This allows researchers to identify overloaded areas within the composite material even before fractures occur. It can help detect vulnerable areas in a facility, thus preventing a disaster.