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Bicycles, dinner tables & umbrellas could soon become pocket-sized

Scientists have created a super-compressible material that could eventually have your pocket sized bike unfold into a full-scale one

By Jak Connor from Oct 15, 2019 @ 2:08 CDT

Have you ever wondered if it would be possible for you to pick up your bicycle, fold it into itself and then place it in your pocket? Well, this new super-compressible material could do just that.

Researchers at TU Delft have used artificial intelligence to create a new supercompressible but strong material. According to Miguel Bessa, assistant professor in materials science and engineering at TU Delft, the idea originiated when he was at the California Institute of Technology in the corner of the Space Structures Lab. Bessa noticed that a satellite structure could open long solar sails from an extremely small form-factor.

This observation drove Bessa's inspiration to create a supercompressible material that could be compressed into a fraction of its volume, but still remain strong. "If this was possible, everyday objects such as bicycles, dinner tables and umbrellas could be folded into your pocket." Bessa and his team used artificial intelligence instead of the traditional trial-and-error process to explore new design possibilities with metamaterials. This reduced experimentation to the absolute minimum, and after some time Bessa fabricated two designs that converted once brittle polymers into lightweight, recoverable and super-compressible metamaterials.

From the above video we can see the maro-scale design is tuned for maximum compressibility and the micro-scale design is for high strength and stiffness.

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