Congratulations to Professor Sung Hoon Kang who, along with colleagues at Harvard University, published a paper in Advanced Materials introducing their new class of reusable energy-absorbing material.

In the paper, which is co-authored by Kang’s incoming Ph.D. student Lichen Fang, Prof. Kang and his colleagues at Harvard introduce a material-independent mechanism for energy absorption that can be used to make reusable, energy-absorbing materials. The team combined numerical modeling and 3D printing to design an elastic metamaterial (a material with properties unavailable in nature) where the energy inserted into the system during loading is trapped in the elastic deformation of a large number of bistable elastic elements.

This new structural mechanism gives the material the ability to absorb energy when needed, but to also return to its original state afterward. It also drastically improves the impact protection and offers a unique range of advantages such as scalability and loading rate and history independence. This new structural design could be combined with different classes of materials and produce stimuli-responsive structures that are capable of recovering when exposed to environmental cues such as temperature and solvent.

While the collapse of structures is commonly associated with dramatic structural failure, the research transforms this association into new opportunities for generating novel and useful materials.

To read the published paper in Advanced Materials, please click here. To view the mechanism in action, please view this movie that shows how the energy-absorbing material can protect a fragile object.