Scientists Dropped a New Material That Will Change How We Build Structures
HomeHome > News > Scientists Dropped a New Material That Will Change How We Build Structures

Scientists Dropped a New Material That Will Change How We Build Structures

Jan 25, 2024

Finding the right materials for a project isn't easy. You have to factor in a lot of considerations. Take, for instance, building a house. Not only do you need the materials of that house to be able to support the entire structure, but they also need to be durable, flexible enough to withstand heat expansion, water resistant and, ideally, as inexpensive as possible without compromising on the safety of the structure.

Things get even more complicated under certain conditions. Say you live on a shoreline where the water level changes dramatically throughout the year. Or you live on a fault line, where not only does your house need to stand up to general wear and tear, but it needs to be able to move enough to sustain an earthquake without falling down.

The field of materials science is always looking to create more and more innovative materials to solve problems like this. And recently, a group of scientists released a study claiming that they’ve solved a big one: how to be tough and absorb vibrations, or shocks.

Most materials are either one or the other—they’re either super strong and tough or able to withstand the varying stresses and movements of vibrations. According to the team from the University of Amsterdam, the key to making a best-of-both-worlds material was to use objects that buckle rather than flex if you press on them from the top, like a sheet of metal. If you force the material to buckle, and then make a composite material out of several layers of that pre-buckled material, it becomes something else entirely.

"When put together in a clever way, constructions made out of such buckled sheets become great absorbers of vibrations – but at the same time, they preserve a lot of the stiffness of the material they are made out of," David Dykstra, the lead author of the study, said in a press release. "Moreover, the sheets do not need to be very thick, and so the material can be kept relatively light."

This lab-created substance is called a metamaterial—a material that has been engineered in a lab to have properties or combinations of properties that don't exist in nature. Often, they are used to guide waves along desirable paths, whether that means electromagnetic waves or physical waves caused by vibration.

Metamaterials aren't new, but they are useful. While there are lots of things that nature does exquisitely well, and there are many instances where we take design and engineering inspiration from nature, there are certain situation where we need a substance to do something unnatural—like scatter solar rays or even turn something invisible. That's where metamaterials come in.

The team is hopeful that their new metamaterial will have a variety of applications, from aerospace engineering to microscopes. "Humans like to build things – small things and big things – and we almost always want these structures to be light," Dykstra said in a news release. "If that can be done with materials that are both stiff and good at shock-absorbing, many existing designs can be improved and many new designs become possible."

You Might Also Like

The Do's and Don'ts of Using Painter's Tape

The Best Portable BBQ Grills for Cooking Anywhere

Can a Smart Watch Prolong Your Life?

You Might Also Like