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Imagine pulling a rubber band. It gets thinner the more you stretch it. Auxetic materials defy logic, they do the opposite and become thicker when stretched and thinner when compressed.

Fascinated? Dr Daphne Attard will be giving a talk for Malta Cafe Scientifique called ‘Stretch it, Bend it, Pull it’ on the 14th June at 7.15pm (talk starts 7.30pm), Music Room, St. James Cavalier. Following the talk there will be an open discussion with the audience. Entrance is free and no special science background is required.

Auxetic materials are still in development, but researchers worldwide see an endless range of applications. Auxetic foams could be used in used in safety equipment like elbow and knee pads, bullet proof vests, crash helmets, automotive seats, cushioning and packaging. Imagine a rider falling off a bike and hitting her elbow on the pavement, this material would “push back” against the pavement and the elbow bones, reducing the effect of the impact.

Auxetic textiles could be used as smart medical dressings. The material would deliver the right amount of medication depending on the swelling. While auxetic heart stents wouldn’t compress and run the risk of causing blockages and heart attacks. The only limits on auxetics are the researchers’ imagination and manufacturing cost.

The speaker has recently obtained her PhD in Auxetics, is a full-time researcher at the University of Malta and has over 20 publications to her name. Malta Cafe Scientifique is supported by The Malta Chamber of Scientists and the Malta Council for the Voluntary Sector, and aided by the University of Malta. For further information, email maltacafescientifique@gmail.com or find us on Facebook.

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