Smart materials can be defined as materials that sense and react to environmental conditions or stimuli (e.g. mechanical, chemical, electrical, or magnetic signals). Smart materials have one or more properties that can be dramatically altered. Most everyday materials have physical properties, which cannot be significantly altered; for example if oil is heated it will become a little thinner, whereas a smart material with variable viscosity may turn from a fluid which flows easily to a solid. As variety of smart materials already exist, and are being researched extensively. These include piezoelectric materials, magneto-rheostatic materials, electro-rheostatic materials, and shape memory alloys. In the last decade, a wide range of novel smart materials have been produced for aerospace, transportation, telecommunications, and domestic applications. Furthermore, there is increased activity in integrating smart materials with nanotechnology to develop novel materials for the applications in biomaterials, sensors, actuators, and textiles.
Meanwhile, nanotechnology is rapidly developed and it permits control of matter at the level of atoms and molecules which would form the building blocks of smart materials. Smart materials are thus evolving from traditional fiber reinforced composite through functionally graded materials to the current nanotechnologically grown materials. These materials will thus have the capability of closely mimicking (biomimetics) nature enabling structures to act like human skin, or a leaf's chlorophyll. The development of true smart materials at the atomic scale is still some way off, although the enabling technologies are under development. These require novel aspects of nanotechnology (technologies associated with materials and processes at the nanometre scale, 10-9m) and the newly developing science of shape chemistry. Worldwide, considerable effort is being deployed to develop smart materials and structures. The technological benefits of such systems have begun to be identified and, demonstrators are under construction for a wide range of applications from space and aerospace, to civil engineering and domestic products. In many of these applications, the cost benefit analyses of such systems have yet to be fully demonstrated.
Thus, the combination of these two fields provides many advantages, realizes novel designs that could not be achieved in traditional engineering and offers greater opportunities as well as challenges. The field of Smart Materials and Nanotechnology is very diverse with application ranging from bioengineering to photonics.
Asia Pacific Committee on Smart and Nano Materials (APCSNM) aims to improve the research regarding smart and nano materials in Asia. Through the organization of conferences and other event, we try to build a good platform to communicate for the corresponding researchers.