What could this mean for consumer electronics? For one thing, 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.”
Xuanhe further adds that the innovative technology can also produce useful gloves that can be tuned on-demand for various applications, such as climbing and gripping. Improvements in the future might be able to dramatically change the surface patterns to produce microfludics and camouflage materials.