This is farfrom the days of making a bad guess and attempting to design an experiment toilluminate the guess. We are now able toactually see the behaviors setting up before generating the result.
This surelymeans that we will refine our working knowledge of material fabrication with atheoretical basis of high confidence. The challenges ahead will need that ability. We are approaching the need to fabricateskins a few atomic layers at a time whose behavior must be managed. This is another such step and is importantfor that.
Mostimportant for now we have actually seen the behavior.
Man-mademuscle fibers help scientists understand strain on plastics
21:14 December 23, 2010
Scientists have used biosynthetic muscle fibers to observethe changes that polymers exhibit when subjected to mechanical stress (Image:TUM)
Scientiststasked with creating better plastic films have been at a loss when it comes toobserving how synthetic polymers react under mechanical stress – the polymersare just too small for a microscope to keep track of while being stretched. Nowa team of physicists from Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM) has come upwith a solution.
They’reusing a muscle filament protein to build polymer networks that can be observed by a microscope,and by doing so have already determined why some polymers get tougher withrepeated stress, while others get softer.
Prof.Andreas Bausch and his colleagues are utilizing the protein actin to create thebiosynthetic networks, as actin filaments are easily seen through afluorescence microscope – even when they’re moving while being stretched. Bycombining a rheometer (used to study mechanical properties of materials) and aconfocal microscope, they were able to film the actin network in three dimensionsthroughout the mechanical deformation process.
Accordingto the TUM team, thefashion in which the network structure reorganizes itself lies behind thedifference in stress responses of different plastic polymers.
The research was recentlypublished in the journal Nature Communications.