The memory of a material

A popular polymer can remember what shape it was in.

By Stephen Ornes, 00:00 AM March 29, 2010


Nafion is a useful material that has been around since the 1960s, but don’t be surprised if you’ve never heard of it. It was first made by a chemist at DuPont, a company that makes chemicals, and it is a common ingredient in fuel cells. (Fuel cells, which are sometimes used to power satellites, produce energy from hydrogen.)


Now, a scientist in Michigan has shown that Nafion has another nifty purpose: It can “remember” three different shapes. If you were to twist some Nafion into, say, a don...

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