Plus, exploring materials with a lenticular lens, researchers from Harvard SEAS develop a material with shape memory, and more design-tech news from this week.
You might know spirulina—a blue-green algae—from your local health food store, but researchers from Empa, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, are turning the unicellular organisms into “mini power plants.” With spirulina’s innately efficient spiral structure, researchers covered the organisms in thin layers of nickel, zinc oxide, and zinc sulfide to create a delicate photocatalytic coating that can ultimately produce biofuels. [Empa]
San Francisco–based designers Jiani Zeng and Honghao Deng have created Illusory Materials using a computation method that deploys multi-material 3D printing and volumetric design and outputs products with a lenticular effect in response to to user interactions. Designers can layer different materials and embed information into each product they create, according to an Illusory Materials press release. So far, these surreal products include a seemingly clear bottle that reveals information when tilted to a certain angle; and a lollipop mold with a color and texture made possible by a unique digital skin. “While many designers largely rely on 3D printing for prototyping, few are currently exploring the wider design possibilities that the rapid development of multi-material 3D printing provides,” said Zeng in the same release. “Today’s consumer has become accustomed to responsive products, but this has largely been limited to the use of electronic components like touchscreens to enable interaction.” [Illusory Materials]