New 3D Mechanical Metamaterials with a Twist

A metamaterial with the potential to twist to the left or to the right when impacted by a solid, straight push has been designed by scientists. According to Corentin Coulais, this chiral response is contrary to the expectations of ordinary solid mechanics.

Getting this paradoxical mechanical response in a metamaterial will bridge the gap in developing artificial materials designed to deform in individual ways.

The designing of man-made materials has paved the way for formulating characteristics that would be unachievable otherwise (e.g. reusability, programmability, exceptional strength, shock-absorption, and resilience). Such characteristics are highly useful for optics and fluidics, space missions, and other such applications. A key problem in designing these metamaterials is getting a mechanical response that is unanticipated with respect to classical standards—for instance, enabling a solid to expand, and not contract, upon being compressed. In this case, Tobias Frenzel and his collaborators layered computer simulations, 3D laser microprinting, which enables expansive fabrication, as well as complex micromechanical experimental methods so as to optimize, produce, and characterize 3D metamaterials with the potential to twist upon being compressed.

Inspired by the light characteristics that enable chiral-like movement upon being impacted by a linear force, Frenzel and his colleagues efficiently transformed a linear motion, or a push, into rotation, or a twist, in a solid material. Coulais further stated that as size effects such as these have earlier been observed in bones, these metamaterials can also be applied for use in prosthetics and can provide crucial knowledge related to the behavior of biological solids.


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