Engineering 101

Abu Dhabi Researchers: Organic Crystals as Energy Converters

Researchers at the NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) Smart Materials Lab published in the journal Nature Communications that organic crystals can serve as efficient and sustainable energy conversion materials for advanced technologies such as robotics and electronics.

Researchers previously believed that crystals were fragile. However, some organic crystals are mechanically robust. With this knowledge, the team developed a material that sets a new world record for its ability to switch between different shapes by expansion or contraction over half of its length without losing its perfectly ordered structure. The researchers found that the organic crystals could reversibly change shape similarly to plastics and rubber and expand and contract over half of their length (51 percent) repeatedly, over thousands of cycles, without any deterioration.

To see this in action, view the video here.

Advanced technologies require materials that are lightweight, resilient to damage, efficient in performance, and have added qualities such as mechanical flexibility and the ability to operate sustainably with minimal consumption of energy. The results of this study have demonstrated, for the first time, that certain organic crystalline materials can revolutionize applications such as soft robotics, artificial muscles, organic optics, and organic electronics (electronics created solely from organic materials).

Organic crystals can not only meet the needs of the emerging technologies but, in some cases, can also surpass the levels of efficiency and sustainability of other, more common materials.

For more information see the study here.

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