A research team at Cambridge University has developed remarkable metal structures that are able to shift shafts, potentially providing the basis for roll-up notebook computer screens and electronic newspapers.

The metal sheets are made of copper alloys, and change shape by using a positive interaction between stress levels and a shape. Essentially, the stress level reaches a certain point, and then the material gives to form a different shape, rather than snapping or breaking.

So far, the material can be twisted, rolled and bent. Dr Keith Seffen, the lead researcher on the team, believes that not only does the material have application for packages, roll-up notebooks, and electronic newspapers, but also for temporary shelters, as they’re transportable but have structural integrity.

The research team from the Department of Engineering has filed patents on its invention, and is now looking for partners to put the material into production and commercial applications.