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How Some of Texas's Toughest Species Are Inspiring EngineersAmong the many enduring images of Hurricane Harvey’s 2017 devastation in Houston was the reminder that when faced with floodwaters, fire ants will assemble in groups of up to 100,000 and link their legs together to create nearly watertight rafts that can span several square feet. The venomous red hexapods then collectively float to safety before releasing and continuing their important work as backyard terrorists.Now researchers at Texas A&M have drawn inspiration from the phenomenon and mimicked it to develop synthetic materials that can autonomously assemble, disassemble, and reconfigure in response to different conditions, such as changes in light or heat. Professor Taylor Ware of A&M’s biomedical and materials science engineering programs, one of the authors of the study published in Nature Materials, says he…

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