Lilies: bio-inspired hybrid textile changes shape in reaction to temperature

Seeking inspiration in nature has led to the most amazing material innovations. Following this biomimicry, designer Dana Zelig, in collaboration with Professor Eran Sharon from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, created a hybrid material called Lilies, consisting of cotton and a responsive active material, that changes shape when the temperature drops or increases, resembling natural structures like leaves and flowers.

The hybrid material combines passive textile with an active responsive gel made from a polymer network and water. To make the material, the cotton is laser cut, which is then put in a flat mould where the gel solution is added. The solution is absorbed into the cloths, filling its holes. After about half an hour, the gel is polymerised, creating a hybrid sheet.

When the temperature changes, the gel volume changes as well. The material is put in water and when the temperature is above 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit), the gel shrinks, while it swells hen if the temperature is below that. The reversible transitions create motion similar to living tissue, and the texture of the sheet varies from silk-like at low temperatures, to more rubber-like when it’s hot.

The pattern in which the gel is applied to the cloth determines the shape the fabric takes. When they applied an angular pattern bound by two pieces of cloth, for example, the shrinkage and swelling of the gel decreased and increased the angles between the pieces of cloth respecitively.

The material is easy to manufacture and can be implemented in many different materials of different purposes.

The project will present in a symposium for IIP program Geometry of Soft Matter. It will be held in the Natal, Brazil, on 21-25 May 2018.

For another project by Zelig at Materia, click here.

Photos: Daniel Shechter