U.S. Army-sponsored researchers at Georgia Tech have discovered a process for simultaneously storing and dissipating energy within structures that could lead to design rules for new types of active, reconfigurable materials for structural morphing, vibration attenuation and dynamic load mitigation.

In particular, researchers examined how a species of South American fire ants collectively entangle themselves to form an active structure capable of changing state from a liquid to a solid when subject to applied loads. An ant's swarm intelligence leading to continual construction could also be applied to modular robotics research or possibly inspire new methods for actively reconfiguring interconnections in complex networks.

The collective dynamics of the fire ants reveal a number of novel cohesive properties beyond energy dissipation.


Also: Learn about a Wireless Inductive Power Device.