Known as "auxetic" substances, these materials include some foams and special crystals. Researchers at the Bar-Ilan University and the Israel Institute of Technology have now used quantum mechanical calculations to identify the first class of chemical compounds that behave auxetically on a molecular level.
When a usual material is, for example, hit by a ball, the material "flows" outward from the impact zone making the point of impact weaker. However, in auxetic materials, the matter "flows" inward, thus strengthening this zone. Such materials would be advantageous for bulletproof vests. Auxetic materials also provide interesting possibilities for medical technology. The introduction of implants such as stents to hold open blood vessels would be easier if, under pressure, the device would get thinner instead of thicker in the perpendicular direction.
In the auxetic materials known to date, the unusual behavior is a macroscopic property that stems from a special arrangement of the particles within the material, such as a particular weblike structure. Nanoscale auxetic materials are so far unknown.
Source: physorg.comAdded: 4 January 2007