A new nanocomposite material discovered by researchers at Rice University has the intriguing property of getting stronger from repeated stress. The material is made from verticaly aligned nanotubes combined with polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), an inert, rubbery polymer. After repeated compression (3.5 million cycles over a period of about a week), the material was found to be 12 percent stiffer than its original state.
Commercial possibilities for the material may not be immediately evident, but the research is intriguing. If the properties in this material can be understood, there may be applications for larger scale uses, such as for construction. Products that are subject to vibrational stresses may also be aided by materials like this which improve in stiffness over time.
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