May 21, 2024

New Metamaterial Developed With Real-Time Shape And Property Control Abilities

Researchers have made a significant breakthrough in the field of soft robotics, drawing inspiration from nature’s adaptability. Led by Professor Jiyun Kim from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at UNIST, a team of researchers has successfully created an encodable metamaterial that can dynamically adjust its shape and mechanical properties in real time. This groundbreaking material overcomes the limitations of existing materials and opens up new opportunities for applications in robotics and other fields that require adaptability.

Soft robots currently lack the adaptability demonstrated by their biological counterparts due to limited real-time tunability and restricted reprogrammable space of properties and functionalities. To bridge this gap, the research team introduced a novel approach using graphical stiffness patterns.

By independently switching the digital binary stiffness states (soft or rigid) of individual units within a simple auxetic structure with elliptical voids, the material achieves real-time tunability across various mechanical qualities.

The digitally programmable material exhibits remarkable mechanical capabilities, including shape-shifting and memory, stress-strain response, and Poisson’s ratio under compressive load. It also demonstrates application-oriented functionalities, such as tunable and reusable energy absorption and pressure delivery. This breakthrough material serves as a stepping stone towards the development of fully adaptive soft robots and smart interactive machines.

Jun Kyu Choe, a researcher at Seok and Park Integration Course and the first author of the study, emphasized the material’s capabilities, stating, “We have developed a metamaterial that can implement desired characteristics within minutes, without the need for additional hardware.” This opens up new possibilities for advanced adaptive materials and the future development of adaptive robots.

The research team showcased the material’s potential by demonstrating an adaptive shock energy-absorbing material that adjusts its properties in response to unexpected impacts. By minimizing the force transmitted to the protected object, this material significantly reduces the risk of damage or injury.

Furthermore, the team utilized the metamaterial as a force transmission material, capable of delivering forces at specific locations and times. By inputting specific digital commands, the material selectively operates adjacent LED switches, enabling precise control over force transmission pathways.

Professor Kim highlighted the compatibility of this metamaterial with artificial intelligence technologies, such as deep learning, as well as existing digital technologies and devices. “This metamaterial, capable of converting digital information into physical information in real time, will pave the way for innovative new materials that can learn and adapt to their surroundings,” added Professor Kim.

The research conducted by Professor Jiyun Kim and the team at UNIST has resulted in the development of a metamaterial that can dynamically adjust its shape and mechanical properties in real time. This metamaterial surpasses the limitations of existing materials, opening up new opportunities in fields such as robotics. By utilizing graphical stiffness patterns and switching the digital binary stiffness states of individual units within a simple auxetic structure, the material achieves real-time tunability across various mechanical qualities. With remarkable mechanical capabilities and application-oriented functionalities, this metamaterial serves as a stepping stone towards the development of fully adaptive soft robots and smart interactive machines. It can implement desired characteristics within minutes without the need for additional hardware, making it a promising material for advanced adaptive materials and the future development of adaptive robots. The material has been demonstrated as an adaptive shock energy-absorbing material, reducing the risk of damage or injury. It also showcases its potential as a force transmission material, allowing precise control over force transmission pathways. With its compatibility with artificial intelligence and existing digital technologies, this metamaterial has the potential to pave the way for innovative new materials that can learn and adapt to their surroundings.

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1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it