RELEVANCE AND NOVELTY
New products demand new and competitive materials with multiple functions including mechanical resistance, sensing, actuation or energy-harvesting capabilities, adaptability/tunability or the ability to self-repair.
This need has led to the new field of META-MATERIALS. Due to the arrangement and properties of their constituents, meta-materials can be engineered (or architected) to exhibit new or enhanced effective properties. This field has been enabled by new micro-fabrication technologies (i.e. additive manufacturing). Architected meta-materials have been developed in photonics and acoustics for attenuating selected ranges of frequencies and to produce ultra-light materials with desired mechanical properties. Nonlinear metamaterials have been found with unique topological properties, exhibiting extreme shock absorbing and restitution thanks to micro-buckling.
Some meta-materials are inspired in biological materials. Their design faces the computational challenge of examining a high-dimensional design space where the material topology, morphology & arrangement have to be optimized.
Living tissues can be seen as active materials (epithelial tissues are used as a bioengineering material in organ-on-a-chip devices). Here, the properties at a mesoscale emerge from the collective interactions and micro-architecture defined by cells.
Despite the importance of this new field, however, the ways in which meta-materials can be architected and processed are not understood.