Is there any material that can harden when electricity is passed through it and soften when current is stopped?

I basically want to use this material in a glove. The glove should get tough and difficult to bend when I pass electric or magnetic field through it. And once the field is removed, it should get back to how a normal glove works.

The best options to be used seem to be the Electrorheological or the Magnetorheological fluids but there seems to be a problem for both- 1) Which fluid can I use for Electrorheological application. Can it be made at home via some chemical or physical reaction? 2) If I use a mixture of Iron fillings and vegetable oil as a magnetorheological fluid, how do I create a magnetic field using arduino?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ A pile of iron filings? Also see smart fluid \$\endgroup\$
    – Eugene Sh.
    Oct 9, 2015 at 18:35
  • 7
    \$\begingroup\$ A human body? (I kid, I kid...) \$\endgroup\$ Oct 9, 2015 at 18:38
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Electrorheological fluid? \$\endgroup\$ Oct 9, 2015 at 19:26
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Historically, a frog's leg. \$\endgroup\$
    – user16324
    Oct 9, 2015 at 19:34
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @Andyaka "for a friend". \$\endgroup\$ Oct 10, 2015 at 3:47

1 Answer 1


I got good news and bad news.

The good news is that I know that the exact material you are looking for exists. I happened to come across a TEDx talk on bionics where a mention and video of such a material that is flexible and compliant, and turns stiff and rigid when voltage is applied. The video can be seen here (The link starts at the part I mentioned): https://youtu.be/CDsNZJTWw0w?t=7m13s.

However, the bad news is there is no clear place I can find to get this peculiar material, all the presenter said was that it is developed by SRI International.

Addressing your other question on how to make a magnetic field with an Arduino, that can be achieved with the help of some other components including a MOSFET and an inductor.

The inductor is basically a coil of wire, usually wrapped around a core, where upon the application of current passing through the coils, a magnetic field is created, which is used to store energy. This is precisely how an electromagnet works. Though the amount of current required to establish a strong magnetic field with an inductor exceeds the max value allowed for Arduino pins, the MOSFET is used to act as a switch controlled by signals from the Arduino.

Hope this helps, good luck finding out how to get the material, and be sure to tell me if you do!

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks a lot. That video contains exactly the stuff that I want. But as you mentioned, it seems difficult to get my hands on it. One option that I found on the web is corn starch + silicone oil. This guy says it works great- forum.arduino.cc/index.php?topic=246224.msg1824658#msg1824658 \$\endgroup\$ Oct 15, 2015 at 11:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ReshamPanth No worries. There you go, corn starch and silicone oil, never knew that worked. I'll have to try that out. \$\endgroup\$
    – ezra_vdj
    Oct 15, 2015 at 11:20

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