Seatbelt! A new material class is here

June 02, 2023

(Nanowerk News) Usually, the two material characterizations are mutually exclusive: either they are stiff, or they absorb vibrations well – but rarely both. However, if we can make materials that are both rigid and good at absorbing vibrations, there will be many potential applications, from nanoscale design to aerospace engineering.

The bend worked

A team of researchers from the University of Amsterdam have now found a way to make a material that is stiff, yet good at absorbing vibrations – and last but not least, the material can be made very light.

David Dykstra, lead author of the publication (Advanced Materials, “Buckling Metamaterials for Extreme Vibration Dampening”), explains: “We found that the trick was using curved materials, such as thin sheet metal. When put together in a clever way, constructions made from bent sheets become great vibration absorbers – but at the same time, they retain much of the rigidity of the material they’re made of. Also, the sheets don’t need to be very thick, so the material can be made relatively light.”

The image shows an example of a material that uses this bending of sheet metal to combine all of these desired properties: Stiff bending material and good at absorbing vibrations. (Image: D. Dykstra et al.)

A number of applications

Researchers thoroughly investigated the properties of these buckling materials, and found that all of them exhibit a magical combination of stiffness and ability to dissipate vibrations. Because materials are known to lack these desirable combinations of properties, new laboratory-made materials (or metamaterials) have a very wide range of potential applications, and over a very wide range of scales.

Possible uses range from meter sizes (think aerospace, automotive applications, and many other civil designs) to micro-scale (applications such as microscopy or nanolithography).


Dykstra: “Humans love to build things – small and big things – and we almost always want these structures to be lightweight. If it could be done with a material that is stiff and good at absorbing shocks, many existing designs could be improved and many new designs could be created. There really is no end to the possible applications!”

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