Bloomfield invents 'Vistik'
'Lou's List' creator designs marketable viscoelastic solid
University Physics Prof. Lou Bloomfield may be best known for creating “Lou’s List,” an easily navigable database of course offerings at the University. With his most recent endeavor, however, Bloomfield has developed a new type of silicone rubber material that will have a wide array of practical uses.
The material is a fluid but also elastic — a “viscoelastic” solid — which Bloomfield has fittingly dubbed “Vistik”.
MeadWestvaco Corporation, a global packaging company, has expressed interest in buying the versatile substance. The company prides itself upon endorsing innovative ideas with the potential to enhance the lives of their customers, according to its website.
Bloomfield said the idea sprang from a desire to fix the pesky problem of wobbly tables. “The classic solution [of shoving] something underneath [is viable, but] I wanted a system that would always fit perfectly in the gap,” he said.
Vistik is the solution that Bloomfield came up with. This material adapts over time to fill any space it comes in contact with, like a the bottom of a table leg.
Bloomfield is also excited about additional potential uses of Vistik. Among other things, Bloomfield expects that Vistik could be valuable in both the prosthetics industry and as a comfortable shoe sole. He describes it as “a solution waiting for a problem,” in that its prospective uses have not yet been fully explored. “I would never in my wildest imaginings think of some of the uses that it eventually will have,” he said.
In the last four years, Bloomfield said he has conducted thousands of experiments, some that were “totally amateur attempts at solving the problem,” and others that were “seriously sophisticated ones.”
He hopes to make Vistik accessible to the public in the future, and is currently in the process of marketing the product.
Though this creation has the potential to pay dividends, Bloomfield still considers inventing more of a hobby than anything else.
“I always have been a tinkerer,” he said. “I’ve experimented with things since I was a kid. I don’t view inventing as anything different from what I normally do. It’s play.”