Mind & Matter


Multifunctional Fibers

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Fibers that can transmit light and detect changes in pressure. Photo: Greg Hren. Courtsey: Reserach Laboratory of Electronics at MIT.


As material resources become increasingly valuable, products will be expected to satisfy multiple functions. A study of living organisms provides clues about multifunctionality in nature, which results from the deep integration of multiple systems with different capabilities.

In a recent example of biomimicry at work, MIT scientists have developed a multifunctional fiber that transports light as well as detects pressure changes. The addition of a thin piezoelectric film to optical fibers provides the capability to sense heat and light, making the sophisticated hybrid a promising addition to the burgeoning catalog of smart materials.

According to materials science and engineering professor Yoel Fink, "We want to increase the level of complexity and sophistication of fibers.” The new technology could be used to depict changing information within clothing, vehicle surfaces, or building skins.



Comments (1 Total)

  • Posted by: Anonymous | Time: 8:52 AM Tuesday, September 28, 2010

    okay so how is depicting changing information going to beneficial? what are the practical applications? anyone can blog about stuff they know nothing about. shallow research is shallow.

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About the Blogger

Blaine Brownell

thumbnail image Minnesota-based architect and author Blaine Brownell, AIA, is a self-defined materials researcher and sustainable building adviser. His "Product of the Week" emails and three volumes of Transmaterial (2006, 2008, 2010) provide designers with a steady flow of inspiration—a 21st-century Grammar of Ornament. Blaine has practiced architecture in Japan and the U.S. and has been published in more than 40 design, business, and science publications. The recipient of a Fulbright fellowship for 2006–07, he researched contemporary Japanese material innovations at the Tokyo University of Science. He currently teaches architecture and co-directs the M.S. in Sustainable Design program at the University of Minnesota. His book Matter in the Floating World was published by Princeton Architectural Press in 2011.