Thanks to a recent court decision, we can look forward to cars that are less polluting. Soon we may be able to buy a car that can fix itself.

Researchers are working to create metals that “remember” their original shapes and that, with the application of a small amount of heat, can snap back to their original shapes. This means that a fender-bender will no longer result in huge repair bills. In, Jeanna Bryner quotes engineer Taher Saif as saying, “We showed for the first time that metal can snap back after deformation.”

A metal’s shape is determined by it?s crystalline structure, or microstructure. These are tiny groups of atoms that are packed together in a certain way during the metal’s manufacture that determines the final metal piece’s shape. The key to making metal that snaps back into shape is making these individual metal “grains” as tiny as possible. Interstingly enough, this kind of metal was discovered in the debris of the Roswell UFO crash in 1947.

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