Soft three-dimensional network materials with rational bio-mimetic designs.
ABSTRACT: Many biological tissues offer J-shaped stress-strain responses, since their microstructures exhibit a three-dimensional (3D) network construction of curvy filamentary structures that lead to a bending-to-stretching transition of the deformation mode under an external tension. The development of artificial 3D soft materials and device systems that can reproduce the nonlinear, anisotropic mechanical properties of biological tissues remains challenging. Here we report a class of soft 3D network materials that can offer defect-insensitive, nonlinear mechanical responses closely matched with those of biological tissues. This material system exploits a lattice configuration with different 3D topologies, where 3D helical microstructures that connect the lattice nodes serve as building blocks of the network. By tailoring geometries of helical microstructures or lattice topologies, a wide range of desired anisotropic J-shaped stress-strain curves can be achieved. Demonstrative applications of the developed conducting 3D network materials with bio-mimetic mechanical properties suggest potential uses in flexible bio-integrated devices.
Project description:Development of advanced synthetic materials that can mimic the mechanical properties of non-mineralized soft biological materials has important implications in a wide range of technologies. Hierarchical lattice materials constructed with horseshoe microstructures belong to this class of bio-inspired synthetic materials, where the mechanical responses can be tailored to match the nonlinear J-shaped stress-strain curves of human skins. The underlying relations between the J-shaped stress-strain curves and their microstructure geometry are essential in designing such systems for targeted applications. Here, a theoretical model of this type of hierarchical lattice material is developed by combining a finite deformation constitutive relation of the building block (i.e., horseshoe microstructure), with the analyses of equilibrium and deformation compatibility in the periodical lattices. The nonlinear J-shaped stress-strain curves and Poisson ratios predicted by this model agree very well with results of finite element analyses (FEA) and experiment. Based on this model, analytic solutions were obtained for some key mechanical quantities, e.g., elastic modulus, Poisson ratio, peak modulus, and critical strain around which the tangent modulus increases rapidly. A negative Poisson effect is revealed in the hierarchical lattice with triangular topology, as opposed to a positive Poisson effect in hierarchical lattices with Kagome and honeycomb topologies. The lattice topology is also found to have a strong influence on the stress-strain curve. For the three isotropic lattice topologies (triangular, Kagome and honeycomb), the hierarchical triangular lattice material renders the sharpest transition in the stress-strain curve and relative high stretchability, given the same porosity and arc angle of horseshoe microstructure. Furthermore, a demonstrative example illustrates the utility of the developed model in the rapid optimization of hierarchical lattice materials for reproducing the desired stress-strain curves of human skins. This study provides theoretical guidelines for future designs of soft bio-mimetic materials with hierarchical lattice constructions.
Project description:Soft materials featuring both 3D free-form architectures and high stretchability are highly desirable for a number of engineering applications ranging from cushion modulators, soft robots to stretchable electronics; however, both the manufacturing and fundamental mechanics are largely elusive. Here, we overcome the manufacturing difficulties and report a class of mechanical metamaterials that not only features 3D free-form lattice architectures but also poses ultrahigh reversible stretchability (strain?>?414%), 4 times higher than that of the existing counterparts with the similar complexity of 3D architectures. The microarchitected metamaterials, made of highly stretchable elastomers, are realized through an additive manufacturing technique, projection microstereolithography, and its postprocessing. With the fabricated metamaterials, we reveal their exotic mechanical behaviors: Under large-strain tension, their moduli follow a linear scaling relationship with their densities regardless of architecture types, in sharp contrast to the architecture-dependent modulus power-law of the existing engineering materials; under large-strain compression, they present tunable negative-stiffness that enables ultrahigh energy absorption efficiencies. To harness their extraordinary stretchability and microstructures, we demonstrate that the metamaterials open a number of application avenues in lightweight and flexible structure connectors, ultraefficient dampers, 3D meshed rehabilitation structures and stretchable electronics with designed 3D anisotropic conductivity.
Project description:Soft adaptable materials that change their shapes, volumes, and properties in response to changes under ambient conditions have important applications in tissue engineering, soft robotics, biosensing, and flexible displays. Upon water absorption, most existing soft materials, such as hydrogels, show a positive volume change, corresponding to a positive swelling. By contrast, the negative swelling represents a relatively unusual phenomenon that does not exist in most natural materials. The development of material systems capable of large or anisotropic negative swelling remains a challenge. We combine analytic modeling, finite element analyses, and experiments to design a type of soft mechanical metamaterials that can achieve large effective negative swelling ratios and tunable stress-strain curves, with desired isotropic/anisotropic features. This material system exploits horseshoe-shaped composite microstructures of hydrogel and passive materials as the building blocks, which extend into a periodic network, following the lattice constructions. The building block structure leverages a sandwiched configuration to convert the hydraulic swelling deformations of hydrogel into bending deformations, thereby resulting in an effective shrinkage (up to around -47% linear strain) of the entire network. By introducing spatially heterogeneous designs, we demonstrated a range of unusual, anisotropic swelling responses, including those with expansion in one direction and, simultaneously, shrinkage along the perpendicular direction. The design approach, as validated by experiments, allows the determination of tailored microstructure geometries to yield desired length/area changes. These design concepts expand the capabilities of existing soft materials and hold promising potential for applications in a diverse range of areas.
Project description:Anisotropic materials form inside living tissue and are widely applied in engineered structures, where sophisticated structural and functional design principles are essential to employing these materials. This paper presents a candidate laminated open-cell framework, which is an anisotropic material that shows remarkable mechanical performance. Using additive manufacturing, artificial frameworks are fabricated by lamination of in-plane orthotropic microstructures made of elbowed beam and column members; this fabricated structure features orthogonal anisotropy in three-dimensional space. Uniaxial loading tests reveal strong auxeticity (high negative Poisson's ratios) in the out-of-plane direction, which is retained reproducibly up to the nonlinear elastic region, and is equal under tensile and compressive loading. Finite element simulations support the observed auxetic behaviors for a unit cell in the periodic framework, which preserve the theoretical elastic properties of an orthogonal solid. These findings open the possibility of conceptual materials design based on geometry.
Project description:The proliferation of computer-aided design and additive manufacturing enables on-demand fabrication of complex, three-dimensional structures. However, combining the versatility of cell-laden hydrogels within the 3D printing process remains a challenge. Herein, we describe a facile and versatile method that integrates polymer networks (including hydrogels) with 3D-printed mechanical supports to fabricate multicomponent (bio)materials. The approach exploits surface tension to coat fenestrated surfaces with suspended liquid films that can be transformed into solid films. The operating parameters for the process are determined using a physical model, and complex geometric structures are successfully fabricated. We engineer, by tailoring the window geometry, scaffolds with anisotropic mechanical properties that compress longitudinally (~30% strain) without damaging the hydrogel coating. Finally, the process is amenable to high cell density encapsulation and co-culture. Viability (>95%) was maintained 28 days after encapsulation. This general approach can generate biocompatible, macroscale devices with structural integrity and anisotropic mechanical properties.
Project description:Modern fabrication techniques, such as additive manufacturing, can be used to create materials with complex custom internal structures. These engineered materials exhibit a much broader range of bulk properties than their base materials and are typically referred to as metamaterials or microstructures. Although metamaterials with extraordinary properties have many applications, designing them is very difficult and is generally done by hand. We propose a computational approach to discover families of microstructures with extremal macroscale properties automatically. Using efficient simulation and sampling techniques, we compute the space of mechanical properties covered by physically realizable microstructures. Our system then clusters microstructures with common topologies into families. Parameterized templates are eventually extracted from families to generate new microstructure designs. We demonstrate these capabilities on the computational design of mechanical metamaterials and present five auxetic microstructure families with extremal elastic material properties. Our study opens the way for the completely automated discovery of extremal microstructures across multiple domains of physics, including applications reliant on thermal, electrical, and magnetic properties.
Project description:Natural tissues and organs have different requirements regarding the mechanical characteristics of response. It is still a challenge to achieve biomaterials with anisotropic mechanical properties using an extracellular matrix with biological activity. We have improved the ductility and modulus of the gelatin matrix using 3D printed gelatin microfibers with different concentrations and topologies and, at the same, time achieved anisotropic mechanical properties. We successfully printed flat microfibers using partially cross-linked gelatin. We modified the 10% (w/v) gelatin matrix with microfibers consisting of a gelatin concentration of 14% (w/v), increasing the modulus to about three times and the elongation at break by 39% in parallel with the fiber direction. At the same time, it is found that the microfiber topology can effectively change the matrix ductility, and changing the modulus of the gelatin used in the microfiber can effectively change the matrix modulus. These findings provide a simple method for obtaining active biological materials that are closer to a physiological environment.
Project description:Ti-alloys represent the principal structural materials in both aerospace development and metallic biomaterials. Key to optimizing their mechanical and functional behaviour is in-depth know-how of their phases and the complex interplay of diffusive vs. displacive phase transformations to permit the tailoring of intricate microstructures across a wide spectrum of configurations. Here, we report on structural changes and phase transformations of Ti-Nb alloys during heating by in situ synchrotron diffraction. These materials exhibit anisotropic thermal expansion yielding some of the largest linear expansion coefficients (+?163.9×10<sup>-6</sup> to -95.1×10<sup>-6</sup>?°C<sup>-1</sup>) ever reported. Moreover, we describe two pathways leading to the precipitation of the ?-phase mediated by diffusion-based orthorhombic structures, ??<sub>lean</sub> and ??<sub>iso</sub>. Via coupling the lattice parameters to composition both phases evolve into ? through rejection of Nb. These findings have the potential to promote new microstructural design approaches for Ti-Nb alloys and ?-stabilized Ti-alloys in general.
Project description:Living organisms often combine soft and hard anisotropic building blocks to fabricate composite materials with complex microstructures and outstanding mechanical properties. An optimum design and assembly of the anisotropic components reinforces the material in specific directions and sites to best accommodate multidirectional external loads. Here, we fabricate composite films with periodic modulation of the soft-hard microstructure by simultaneously using electric and magnetic fields. We exploit forefront directed-assembly approaches to realize highly demanded material microstructural designs and showcase a unique example of how one can bridge colloidal sciences and composite technology to fabricate next-generation advanced structural materials. In the proof-of-concept experiments, electric fields are used to dictate the position of the anisotropic particles through dielectrophoresis, whereas a rotating magnetic field is used to control the orientation of the particles. By using such unprecedented control over the colloidal assembly process, we managed to fabricate ordered composite microstructures with up to 2.3-fold enhancement in wear resistance and unusual site-specific hardness that can be locally modulated by a factor of up to 2.5.
Project description:Multiscale modeling for cement-based materials, such as concrete, is a relatively young subject, but there are already a number of different approaches to study different aspects of these classical materials. In this paper, the parameter-passing multiscale modeling scheme is established and applied to address the multiscale modeling problem for the integrated system of cement paste, mortar, and concrete. The block-by-block technique is employed to solve the length scale overlap challenge between the mortar level (0.1-10 mm) and the concrete level (1-40 mm). The microstructures of cement paste are simulated by the HYMOSTRUC3D model, and the material structures of mortar and concrete are simulated by the Anm material model. Afterwards the 3D lattice fracture model is used to evaluate their mechanical performance by simulating a uniaxial tensile test. The simulated output properties at a lower scale are passed to the next higher scale to serve as input local properties. A three-level multiscale lattice fracture analysis is demonstrated, including cement paste at the micrometer scale, mortar at the millimeter scale, and concrete at centimeter scale.