Researchers are developing new material with actually incompatible properties

(Image source: PixabayDabinielson)

(Image source: Pixabay/Dabinielson)

Would you rather run into a wall or a mattress? The University of Amsterdam poses this question in a recent article. What almost sounds like a joking question has an exciting background.

A wall is stiff and rigid, but it is not good at absorbing vibrations and shocks. A mattress, on the other hand, is soft and can absorb external forces well. In turn, she gives in under pressure.

The researchers at the University of Amsterdam now wanted to create a material that combines these two properties that are actually incompatible: a material that is flexible enough to absorb vibrations and at the same time stiff enough not to collapse under pressure. And they apparently succeeded.

As a demonstration, the researchers show a model made of metal strips.  (Image source: UvA)

As a demonstration, the researchers show a model made of metal strips. (Image source: UvA)

Admittedly, the metal frame in the picture above doesn’t look particularly exciting. However, it is intended to demonstrate what the researchers are interested in: If, for example, thin, flexible metal strips are connected to one another in this way, a framework is created that is as stable as a cuboid, but can still absorb vibrations and shocks like a spring. The following simulation is a bit more impressive:

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New class of material developed - Is stiff and vibration-dampening at the same time

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New class of material developed – Is stiff and vibration-dampening at the same time

In the video above, a structure made of rubber can be seen being subjected to different stresses – 0.2 G and 1.0 G. According to the researchers, something similar can be achieved with any flexible material.

David Dykstra, lead author of the publication, describes it as follows:

We found the trick is to use materials that flex, such as thin sheets of metal. When cleverly assembled, structures made from such curved sheets are excellent at absorbing vibrations while retaining much of the rigidity of the material from which they are made.

Another advantage of this material or class of materials is that the individual elements can be very thin, which saves a lot of weight. The latter is strongly reminiscent of the principle of the honeycomb structure.

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What is the new material supposed to be good for?

According to the researchers, the new metamaterial can be used in many areas. They cite the automotive and aerospace industries as examples. In principle, the principle can be applied to all sizes. Dykstra once again:

Humans like to build things – small and big things – and we almost always want these structures to be light. If this can be achieved with materials that are both stiff and shock absorbing, many existing designs can be improved and many new designs become possible. The possible applications are really limitless!

What do you say? Is this an exciting development for you, or do you find it more predictable? Write it to us in the comments!

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