NYU Abu Dhabi unveils materials woven from organic crystals

Fast facts:

  • Weaving is one of the oldest crafts known to mankind, with the earliest textiles dating back some 5,000 years.
  • Organic crystals, long thought to be hard and brittle, are now known to have unusual elastic properties, revealing an unexplored new direction in materials science.

Abu Dhabi, UAE, November 28, 2023: Applying simple, ancient weaving techniques to the newly recognized properties of organic crystals, researchers from the Smart Materials Lab (SML) and the Center for Smart Engineering Materials (CSEM) at NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) have for the first time demonstrated the unique properties of woven „textiles”. Formed. These new fabric bonds expand one-dimensional crystals into flexible, cohesive, two-dimensional planar structures that are incredibly strong — 20 times stronger than the original crystals — and resistant to low temperatures.

These characteristics give them exciting potential applications, including flexible electronics from sensing devices to optical arrays and extreme conditions such as the low temperatures encountered in space exploration. In the paper titled Woven organic crystals Published in the journal Nature Communications, Panče Naumov, NYUAD professor of chemistry and director of CSEM, and colleagues at Jilin University demonstrate that organic crystal can be woven into flexible and strong patches with simple, twill and satin structures.

The researchers found that because organic crystals are inherently flexible materials, the patches are not only lightweight, but also robust to mechanical impact. They are 15 times more resilient to failure compared to individual crystals, reflecting enhanced composite action in response to bending or other impacts on these complex structural components.

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The researchers also report that the thermal stability of the new „crystal fabric” is another impressive property of the flexible crystals. Although the thermal stability depends on the actual crystals used in the weaves, the crystal patches of some of these crystals are flexible in the temperature range of about 350. ohC, between -196 and 150 ohC, which is superior to many polymers or elastomers, which typically become brittle below their glass transition temperature.

The new fabric is optically transmissive, offering the possibility of creating networks of optical waveguides capable of performing logic functions through selective laser excitation of component crystals. As a demonstration of that property, researchers report optical arrays of woven crystals that can perform simple logic operations.

When organic crystals have the appropriate aspect ratio, they can be highly mechanically conformable, bent, twisted, or twisted. This counter-intuitive flexibility of organic crystals may be rooted in their weak intermolecular interactions, which can sustain large stresses without fracturing.

„For thousands of years, textiles have been woven, but stronger than their component materials, resistant to abrasion and wear, and remarkably durable,” said Dr. Naumov. „Until recently, organic crystals were considered hard and brittle; however, the realization that they can have extraordinary elastic properties has changed that paradigm, not only adding a new aspect to their unique properties, but also revealing a new, unexplored direction. Materials science. Our new application of crystals as a basis for woven fabric The concept opens up an exciting range of possibilities for a myriad of technological applications for combining these woven crystals with other materials.”

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About NYU Abu Dhabi


NYU Abu Dhabi is the Middle East’s first comprehensive liberal arts and research campus operated abroad by a major American research university. NYU Abu Dhabi integrates a highly selective program with majors in the sciences, engineering, social sciences, arts and humanities, with a global center for advanced research. Its campus enables students to succeed in an increasingly interdependent world, and promotes cooperation and progress in humanity’s shared challenges. NYU Abu Dhabi’s elite students come from approximately 125 countries and speak more than 100 languages. Together, NYU’s campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai form the backbone of a unique global university that offers faculty and students opportunities to experience diverse learning environments and immersion in other cultures. On six continents.

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