Mechanical metamaterials are a class of structured materials designed with a wide range of optimized responses to external forces, such as improved strength, enhanced vibrational dampening, thermal efficiency, energy absorption, and more. They’re created by embedding geometric patterns into common base materials, without chemical or molecular modifications. The base material is often metallic, elastomeric, or composite.
The metamaterial’s overall geometric design, unit (or “motif”) size, and orientation is generated and optimized computationally using kinematic analysis of mechanisms, homogenization theory, and full solid characterization. Optimized geometries are then embedded into a base material using 3D printing or other pattern transfer methods. The resulting physical properties are largely determined by the metamaterial’s geometric pattern. In short, metamaterials allow us to engineer materials with properties not found in naturally occurring materials (see: Wikipedia article on metamaterials).