|Credit: University of Queensland|
Queensland researchers have shown that single crystals, typically thought of as brittle and inelastic, are flexible enough to be bent repeatedly and even tied in a knot.
Researchers from Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and The University of Queensland (UQ) determined and measured the structural mechanism behind the elasticity of the crystals down to the atomic level.
Their work, published in Nature Chemistry, opens the door for the use of flexible crystals in applications in industry and technology.
The research was led by ARC Future Fellows Associate Professor Jack Clegg in UQ's School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences and Associate Professor John McMurtrie in QUT's Science and Engineering Faculty.
Associate Professor McMurtrie said the results challenged conventional thinking about crystalline structures.
"Crystals are something we work with a lot – they're typically grown in small blocks, are hard and brittle, and when struck or bent they crack or shatter," he said.
"While it has previously been observed that some crystals could bend, this is the first study to examine the process in detail.
"We found that the crystals exhibit traditional characteristics of not only hard matter, but soft matter like nylon."
Bendable crystals tie current thinking in knots, Phys.org