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Evolution-in-materio concerns the computer controlled manipulation of material systems using external stimuli to train or evolve the material to perform a useful function. In this paper we demonstrate the evolution of a disordered composite material, using voltages as the external stimuli, into a form where a simple computational problem can be solved. The material consists of single-walled carbon nanotubes suspended in liquid crystal; the nanotubes act as a conductive network, with the liquid crystal providing a host medium to allow the conductive network to reorganise when voltages are applied. We show that the application of electric fields under computer control results in a significant change in the material morphology, favouring the solution to a classification task.

Computer simulations (COMSOL) of electric field applied to; (a) Opposite electrodes. (b) Adjacent electrodes. SEM images showing alignment of SWCNTs with electric field applied to; (c) Opposite electrodes. (d) Adjacent electrodes. The axes relate to the orientation shown in (f). (e) No field applied. (f) Distribution of angles of SWCNTs in SEM images (c) + (d). Scale bars on SEM images are 10 µm.

Computer simulations (COMSOL) of electric field applied to; (a) Opposite electrodes. (b) Adjacent electrodes. SEM images showing alignment of SWCNTs with electric field applied to; (c) Opposite electrodes. (d) Adjacent electrodes. The axes relate to the orientation shown in (f). (e) No field applied. (f) Distribution of angles of SWCNTs in SEM images (c) + (d). Scale bars on SEM images are 10 µm.

Collaborators:

  • Electronics Group, Durham

Publications:

  • [2016,article] bibtex
    K. Massey, A. Kotsialos, D. Volpati, E. Vissol-Gaudin, C. Pearson, L. Bowen, B. Obara, D. Zeze, C. Groves, and M. Petty, "Evolution of electronic circuits using carbon nanotube composites," Nature Scientific Reports, vol. 6, iss. 32197, 2016.
    @article{Massey2016,
      author = {Kieran Massey and Apostolos Kotsialos and Diogo Volpati and Eleonore Vissol-Gaudin and Chris Pearson and Leon Bowen and Boguslaw Obara and Dagou Zeze and Chris Groves and Michael Petty},
      title = {Evolution of electronic circuits using carbon nanotube composites},
      journal = {Nature Scientific Reports},
      volume = {6},
      number = {32197},
      year = {2016},
      doi = {10.1038/srep32197}
    }