Celebrating Soft Matter’s 10th Anniversary: Toward jamming by design
In materials science, high performance is typically associated with regularity and order, while disorder and the presence of defects are assumed to lead to sub-optimal outcomes. This holds for traditional solids such as crystals as well as for many types of nanoscale devices. However, there are circumstances where disorder can be harnessed to achieve performance not possible with approaches based on regularity. Recent research has shown opportunities specifically for soft matter. There, the phenomenon of jamming leads to unique emergent behavior that enables disordered, amorphous systems to switch reversibly between solid-like rigidity and fluid-like plasticity. This makes it possible to envision materials that can change stiffness or even shape adaptively. We review some of the progress in this direction, discussing examples where jamming has been explored from micro to macro scales in colloidal systems, suspensions, granular-materials-enabled soft robotics, and architecture. We focus in particular on how the jammed aggregate state can be tailored by controlling particle level properties and discuss very recent ideas that provide an important first step toward actual design of specifically targeted jamming behavior.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Celebrating Soft Matter’s 10th Anniversary