The science of knitting could be the future of sophisticated materials •

Knitting dates back thousands of years, but new research suggests that it may be more than an ancient way of making materials. According to Elisabetta Matsumoto from Georgia Institute of Technology, the underlying mathematical rules of knitting could inform the development of revolutionary materials.

Matsumoto believes that understanding how stitch types regulate shape and elasticity will be invaluable in the design of new “tunable” materials. For example, a flexible material could be created to replace biological tissue, such as torn ligaments. The shape and elasticity can be customized for different people.

“By choosing a point, you choose not only the geometry, but also the elastic properties, which means you can incorporate the right mechanical properties for everything from aerospace engineering to tissue scaffolding materials,” Matsumoto said.

After knitting as a child, Matsumoto developed a new appreciation for the hobby later in life when she became interested in math and physics.

“I realized that there is just a tremendous amount of math and materials science that goes into textiles, but it’s taken for granted enormously. ”

“Each type of point has a different elasticity, and if we find out everything that is possible, we could create things that are rigid in a certain place using a certain type of point and use a different type of point in another place. to get different functionality. . “

Image Credit: Elisabetta Matsumoto

Applying the mathematics of knot theory to a large catalog of knitting patterns is a challenge for Matsumoto graduate student Shashank Markande.

“Stitches have very strange constraints; eg i have to be able to do it with two needles and a piece of thread – how do you translate that in math? “

The team constructs the knitted algebra in larger and more complex patterns and incorporates them into the elastic modeling of simple lattice knits. Researchers hope to find out soon how knitwear behaves in 3D.

Matsumoto will present the research at American Physical Society March meeting this week in Boston.

Through Chrissy sexton, Editor-in-chief

About Tracy G. Larimore

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