BY: CARRIE KIRBY AND TOM ABATE
If there’s such a thing as an experiment that goes too well, a recent effort in the lab of Stanford chemical engineering Professor Zhenan Bao might fit the bill.
One of her team members, Cheng-Hui Li, wanted to test the stretchiness of a rubberlike type of plastic known as an elastomer that he had just synthesized. Such materials can normally be stretched two or three times their original length and spring back to original size. One common stress test involves stretching an elastomer beyond this point until it snaps.