It has been a long research and engineering pursuit to create lightweight and mechanically robust and energy efficient materials with interconnected porosity. These cellular materials are desirable for a broad range of applications including structural components, lightweight transportation, heat exchange, catalyst supports, battery electrodes and biomaterials. However, the required outstanding properties have remained elusive on lightweight materials (<10kg/m3), constrained by the inherent coupling of material properties and the lack of suitable processes to generate these artificial materials. For example, graphene aerogels have among the lowest record densities ~1kg/m^3, but their strength have been degraded to tens to hundreds of Pascal (<10^-8 of that of carbon nanotubes). The attainment of low density has come with a price --- significant reduction of bulk scale properties.
We present the design, manufacturing and defect tolerance study of a new class of ultralight, three-dimensional multi-functional architected materials. These 3D bulk metamaterials (polymer, metal, ceramic and combinations thereof) possess weight density comparable to that of carbon aerogel, but with over 10^4 higher stiffness and strength. By designing and studying their hierarchical architectures, material compositions and feature sizes spanning multiple length-scales, we create a wide range of decoupled material properties such as programmable stiffness, tunable strength and fracture toughness as well as programmable possion ratio. With the possibility of incorporating precise control of topological architectures across length-scale sets as well as prediction and optimization of their defect tolerance, we enter into a paradigm where nanoscale material properties can be harnessed and made accessible in large scale objects, opening a wide range of applications of these materials in energy, health care and flexible electronics.
Xiaoyu R. Zheng, "Ultralight, scalable nano-architected metamaterials (Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 10169, Nondestructive Characterization and Monitoring of Advanced Materials, Aerospace, and Civil Infrastructure 2017, 101690B (Presented at SPIE Smart Structures and Materials + Nondestructive Evaluation and Health Monitoring: March 26, 2017; Published: 11 May 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2258607.5427848129001.
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