Silicone rubber exhibits both viscous and elastic properties

University of Virginia physicist Lou Bloomfield has created a new type of silicone rubber called Vistik that is malleable enough to take on any shape when pressed, but still resilient enough to regain its original shape.

"I was looking to come up with something cheap and simple to solve an everyday problem – wobbly tables – and ended up finding an amazing new material," Bloomfield noted. "I wanted something that could hold its shape while also being elastic."

Vistik is a viscoelastic material, meaning that it exhibits both viscous and elastic properties.

An interesting characteristic of the material is that while it sticks to itself, it does not stick to other materials and objects, and dust and dirt can be brushed off or washed away, allowing the material to easily re-adhere.

Vistik also regains its original shape after being compressed or imprinted. For example, a Vistik ball is soft enough that it can be squeezed into a flat disk that will slowly return to its round shape once the pressure is off.

Bloomfield believes this compliant, adaptive characteristic makes it an ideal material as a shoe insole or contact point for canes, crutches and prosthetics.

It could also be used, he says, as a resealable adhesive for packaging, or as an alternative to the zip strips on plastic bags.

Author
Laura Hopperton

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Great invention. I can see many uses for it.

Comment Steven Price, 07/03/2013
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