Engineers create a polymer material that can change patterns in a split a second.

Xuanhe Zhao, an assistant professor at Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering, has come up with a new plastic material that can morph its surface texture in less than a second. The texture pattern can be transformed from dots and circles, to segments and lines. What this essentially means is that if you have a smartphone cover made from this material, you can alter the surface to become more coarse for a better grip, or more smooth so it can sit evenly on a glass table.

Qiming Wang, a student on Zhao’s research team, explains that the polymer surface can be switched within milliseconds, and the “pattern sizes can be tuned from millimeter to sub-micrometer.”

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