Researchers Design a New Class of Materials That Are Both Stiff and Shock Absorbing

Researchers Design a New Class of Materials That Are Both Stiff and Shock Absorbing

A team of researchers from the University of Amsterdam has discovered a way to create a new class of materials that are stiff, but also good at absorbing vibrations - two characteristics which are normally mutually exclusive.

Traditionally, a material could be stiff and unable to absorb vibrations well, or it could absorb vibrations well, but couldn’t be stiff. In other words, it couldn’t possess both characteristics simultaneously.

So, how have they done it? How was the team able to create a material that possesses two previously contradictory characteristics?

The team responsible for the breakthrough has published a paper outlining their findings; Buckling Metamaterials for Extreme Vibration Damping.

The lead author of the paper, David Dykstra, explains the team’s discovery:

“We discovered that the trick was to use materials that buckle, like thin metal sheets. When put together in a clever way, constructions made out of such buckled sheets become great absorbers of vibrations - but at the same time, they preserve a lot of the stiffness of the material they are made out of. Moreover, the sheets do not need to be very thick, and so the material can be kept relatively light”.

These new lab-made materials have been named ‘metamaterials’ and are expected to have a very wide range of applications. These range from the scale of metres (e.g. in automotive, aerospace, and civil engineering applications), through to microscale applications such as in microscopy or nanolithography.

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Dr Holly Edwards
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