University of Chicago researchers using soil structure to create materials that interact with their environment

December 28, 2022 |

In Illinois, researchers at the University of Chicago are taking inspiration from nature to engineer new systems with a range of potential applications. Their latest experiment mimics the structure of soil to create materials that can interact with their environment, with promise for electronics, medicine, and biofuel technology. It has multiple potential applications; preliminary tests have shown the material can boost the growth of microbes and may be able to help treat gut disorders.

In a study described in Nature Chemistry, the team designed a springy substance composed of tiny particles of clay, starch, and droplets of liquid metal. The clay and starch create structure with lots of nooks and crannies, but it’s flexible enough that the material can also adapt and respond to the conditions around it.

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