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New Plastic Material Gets Stronger Under Stress

stress plasticFor all of you comic book fans out there, I am quite sure that you have heard of one of the Jade Giant, aka The Incredible Hulk’s favorite phrases – “The angrier Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk becomes, and Hulk is angry!!!” You could more or less apply this to a special kind of plastic that was researched and developed by the talented minds at Duke University, where it actually becomes stronger under an ever increasing level of stress. The reason behind this is not due to exposure to gamma rays, but rather, because of a carefully designed molecular structure applied to this new material.

This new kind of plastic will be able to retain the usual characteristics found in all plastics, but researchers have also managed to throw in a molecule known as carboxylate which will cross-link across chains of molecules in the plastic under stress, ensuring that the plastic is capable of ‘reacting’ to physical force, meaning it becomes stronger as stresses increase. Does this mean that we will see an eventual shift from an anodized aluminum chassis in smartphones and tablets, to devices that use this plastic so that it ends up as drop-proof? It would be great if the displays on our mobile devices could be augmented with a molecule that offers similar performance, too.

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