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Ahmad Rafsanjani and Damiano Pasini/McGill University

Ancient temple designs inspire modern material scientists

When most materials are stretched they get longer in one direction and thinner in the other, like a pulled rubber band. But a handful of others, known as auxetic materials, actually get wider as well as longer. Now, researchers in Canada have taken inspiration for new auxetic materials from geometric patterns decorating two 1000-year-old Islamic tombs in Iran, BBC reports. When researchers cut similar patterns into sheets of rubber, the components rotated against each other when yanked, making the sheets expand in multiple directions at once.

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